American woman, 71, visiting Israel among 4 killed in bus crash


JERUSALEM (JTA) — An American woman visiting Israel for the birth of her fifth grandchild was one of four people killed in a bus crash near Ben Gurion Airport.

The public bus was traveling between Jerusalem and Haifa on Sunday evening when it hit a bus stop, causing massive damage. The bus driver, who was arrested after being treated for his injuries, has said he does not know how the accident happened. Israeli media reports say he could be charged with negligent homicide.

Bertha Schwartz, 71, a teacher from Philadelphia, was in Israel for the first time in nine years awaiting the birth of her grandchild, The Times of Israel reported. She was riding the bus with her husband, Baruch, but they were sitting in different rows, which saved his life. They had visited the Western Wall earlier in the day.

The couple celebrated their 41st wedding anniversary last week, Ynet reported. Baruch Schwartz told Ynet that he looked for his wife for half an hour after the crash before finding her lifeless body.

“I was screaming ‘Where is she? She was under a block of concrete, I remember I ran outside and started shouting ‘Bring the firefighters,’” he said.

At least two of the three others killed were Israelis: Hayley Sevitz Varenberg, 35, of Jerusalem, made aliyah a decade ago from Capetown, South Africa, and Yosef Kahalani, 79, of Petach Tikvah.

The name of the fourth victim, a woman, was not announced as of Tuesday afternoon.