(October 31, 2018 / JNS) A horrific car crash near the Dead Sea on Tuesday claimed the lives of a couple and all six of their children.
The names of the victims, a family from the southern Samaria town of Psagot, were released for publication: Yariv (45) and Shoshi (47) Atar, and their six children: Yaakov Yisroel (12), Ateret (11), Ayala (9), Moriah (7), Yedid (5) and Avigail (3).
Though the details of the accident were not fully publicized, reports indicate that the Atar family’s van was hit in a head-on collision by a Toyota Land Cruiser coming from the other direction, which contained another couple and their 12-year-old daughter.
The driver of the SUV, who was only lightly injured in the accident, allegedly ran to the other vehicle to help the family members trapped in the car, but it soon burst into flames, consuming all the occupants. Reports from Magen David Adom suggest that some of the family members were killed in the raging fire rather than the crash.
“The father was hysterical and crying, saying, ’I killed them, I killed them,’ ” said Sarah Israeli, a paramedic who was first on the scene. He later allegedly told police at the hospital, “I don’t remember what happened there. I know I killed people. I’m never driving again.”
His car was also taken in for mechanical tests to order out other causes. The man is allegedly not cooperating with police investigators, though the details have not been publicized.
Yariv Atar worked for a computer company and as a special-education teacher at Keren Or in Jerusalem, a center for blind children with disabilities.
Five of the children attended the elementary school and kindergarten in Psagot, and Yaakov studied at the Yeshiva High School of Mateh Binyamin in Beit El.
In Psagot, the community’s rabbi, and welfare and social-services staff of Mateh Binyamin Regional Council, were deployed to assist the grieving town.