Family sues driver who killed mother on Yom Kippur 2013


(JTA) — The family of a Florida woman who was killed after a car hit her on her way to Yom Kippur evening services two years ago filed two lawsuits against the driver and his company.

Orly Ohayon, whose mother, Esther Ohayon, was struck on Sept. 13, 2013, while crossing a street in a Jacksonville suburb, filed an auto negligence lawsuit last week, and her sister filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the driver, reported Monday.

Orly Ohayon, then 16, was with her mother at the time of the accident and was injured. Esther Ohayon, 57, died at the scene.

The two had been walking to the Etz Haim Synagogue in Mandarin for Kol Nidre services.

A Florida Highway Patrol investigation found that Michael Fortunato, the driver, had been driving the speed limit, but the patrol suspended his driver’s license and fined him for careless driving. He did not face criminal charges.

The Ohayons’ lawyer, Angelo Patacca, said the intersection’s poor design also may have been a factor. Because the Ohayons, who were Orthodox, were barred by Jewish law from pushing a traffic signal button on Shabbat and holidays, they had only 11 seconds to make it across the eight-lane boulevard.

The Ohayons are considering adding the city of Jacksonville and the Florida Department of Transportation as defendants, according to

Fortunato was driving on an expired license at the time of the accident and failed an eye exam.


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