A 14-year-old boy was found dead in a water-filled pit near Beit Shemesh late Thursday, hours after he went missing while on a hike with his school.
Rescuers said the boy, whose name was not released to the public, was located just before midnight after apparently drowning. He was found without any sign of life and was pronounced dead at the scene.
His body was found in a pit that had been drained of water adjacent to Eucalyptis Park just outside Beit Shemesh, in the Judean hill country west of Jerusalem.
Officials believe he drowned after getting stuck in mud in the drainage pool, which was created as part of construction work to raise nearby Route 38 and keep it from being flooded by the Yishi Stream, the Ynet news website said.
Police opened an investigation into the death and announced the arrests of the school’s principal and a teacher on suspicion of criminal negligence. A police statement said the two were sent for questioning after being jailed and that they would request to keep the suspects in custody.
According to Ynet, there are no fences or other berms separating the drainage pit from the park.
Authorities said the boy had been on a visit to the forest park with classmates when he went missing.
Teams of rescuers, including divers and a police helicopter, were dispatched to search for him in the surrounding area starting at approximately 4 p.m. and he was eventually found after water was mechanically pumped out of several water pits.
“As time passed and we came to understand he was likely in the water channel, we focused search efforts in that area, which unfortunately led to us finding him without signs of life,” said Elyakim Shayshah, a volunteer with the Hatzalah rescue group.