IDF chief says helicopter crash survivor did everything he could to save the others

Helicopter crash survivor’s girlfriend said it was like a “Hollywood movie.”

By World Israel News staff

IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kohavi visited on Wednesday Israeli Naval Capt. Ron Berman, the only remaining survivor of Monday’s helicopter crash.

“Berman did everything he could to save the two pilots, Lt. Col. Erez Sachyani and Maj. Chen Fogel,” Kochavi told media outlets from Haifa’s Rambam Medical Center where Berman is being treated for broken vertebrae and hypothermia.

He added that the two pilots did everything they could to land the helicopter safely, “Which is what probably helped Ron survive.”

The IDF released a video recount of Berman on Tuesday from his hospital bed.

“I was able to get myself out of the sinking helicopter and then, after many attempts to get my friends Sachyani and Fogel out, I was rescued by a naval police patrol,” he said in the video statement.

“I send a lot, a lot of strength and love to the families, to [Sachyani’s widow] Lilach… I love you, be strong,” he added as his voice began to break.

Berman’s girlfriend, Maria Shipnov, told KAN News that he is stabilizing by the day, and will hopefully be sent home on Thursday.

She said that following the crash, she had received a text from Berman which read, “I am okay.”

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At the time, Shipnov stated that she had no idea that there had been a helicopter crash. The IDF then updated her on the situation.

“I could not believe what I heard,” she said. “It felt like something from a Hollywood movie.”

Israeli Airforce chief of operations Brig.-Gen. Amir Lazar gave an update Tuesday night on the investigation into the helicopter crash.

He said that the helicopter crash was the result of a malfunction which caused a fire in an engine. Despite the fire causing a power failure, the pilots were able to lower the AS565 Panther helicopter to an altitude to carry out an emergency landing at sea. However the power failure left the pilots unable to make a distress call.