5-year-old Israeli boy learns of his family members’ deaths

Eitan Biran, who lost his parents, brother and great-grandparents in a cable car crash in Italy in May, has been informed that his family is gone.

By Howard M. Riell, World Israel News

Relatives are consoling five-year-old Israeli boy Eitan Biran as he grapples with the reality that his parents, brother and great-grandparents all died in the cable car disaster that he survived.

The tragedy took place on May 24 close to the summit of Mottarone Mountain in the northwestern Piedmont region of Italy.

According to reports, the boy is being comforted by an aunt, paternal grandmother, maternal grandfather and other family members who have traveled from Israel. He is also reportedly under the care of a psychologist.

The family’s attorney, Cristina Pigna, told the Italian daily newspaper La Stampa that Eitan is “slowly learning what happened from his relatives and from the psychologists who are supporting him. He has found out about the consequences of the tragedy in the manner agreed upon by doctors, specialists and family members. We are talking about a long and delicate process.”

News of the accident shocked the world. The cable car in which the Biran family and others were riding had almost arrived at the mountain-top station when the cable holding it broke. The car slid backwards and plummeted at an estimated 100km/h before slamming into trees. In all, 14 people died.

Three individuals — the owner of the firm that manages the ride and its chief technician and technical director — were arrested soon after on suspicion of having tampered with the emergency brakes in order to keep it from being closed down.

Following the tragedy, the youngster was flown in critical condition to nearby Regina Margherita children’s hospital in Turin, suffering from injuries to his chest and abdomen.

The Biran family had relocated from Israel to northern Italy in 2018.

Attorney Pigna told the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, “This will be a long and complex process. He is improving physically but there is no clear indication as to when he will be released from the Torino Hospital and be able to return to Israel.”