A truck involved in an accident that killed six people in Haifa in northern Israel on Wednesday afternoon was overweight and should not have been on the road, police said Wednesday evening.
They further said that the driver had 16 prior violations, some of them for driving a vehicle found to be faulty.
With its extra load, the truck’s weight exceeded the permitted 32 metric tons by about 25 percent, turning the vehicle into a “deadly weapon,” police said.
The truck was taken off the road due to a violation only days prior to the gruesome crash, they added.
Authorities said that as the truck plowed through cars over a 200-meter stretch, the driver, a Bedouin man, yelled that he had no brakes.
Fifteen people remained in hospital, three of them in serious condition, on Wednesday night.
Although police initially considered the possibility that the 30-year-old driver, a resident of the southern Bedouin town of Rahat, had carried out a deliberate attack, later that hypothesis was all but ruled out.
“At this moment in time we don’t believe it was a terror attack,” Israel Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told The Times of Israel. “We strongly believe it was an accident, based on findings at the scene and eyewitnesses.”
Recent years have seen several incidents during which Palestinians targeted Israelis with heavy vehicles, most famously in a series of backhoe attacks in Jerusalem in 2008.
The driver, who was lightly hurt in the collision, was under police guard at a Haifa hospital Wednesday night for fear that a member of one of the victims’ families would may try to attack him.
Several cars caught fire in the collision, but the blazes were put out by firefighters.
Haifa Mayor Yona Yahav called the scene “horrific” and said that the truck had hit a traffic light and caused it to fall on nearby cars, “increasing the casualties and the damage.”
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