The van driver who hit Shula Swerdlov A”h, claiming that he did not see her, has a history of reckless driving, police have said. He had been convicted on 31 different traffic violations, and was involved in 10 accidents.
Police also said that young children being transported in minibuses were supposed to be escorted by chaperone off the vehicle and onto the sidewalk. No chaperone was present on Monday, and police said their investigation would also include the transport company’s apparent failure to provide one.
Swerdloff’s eight-year-old brother Avraham had been waiting for his sister on the sidewalk when the minibus pulled up, and saw the accident.
Neighbors described the boy yelling hysterically, “My sister! He hit her!” as passersby ran to help the girl. Police said the driver’s testimony would be checked against the brother’s.
Neighbors and passersby gathered at the site, which police had cordoned off with red tape.
“I was one of the first to arrive on the scene,” said a young American who studies at a nearby yeshiva. “We heard screaming, and we thought maybe there was a robbery happening, because there have been a number of robberies here in the past.
“When I got out to the street, there were just a few people trying to help the girl, but it was pretty clear that nothing could be done. The driver was nowhere to be seen.”
Ze’ev Sofer, a volunteer with the United Hatzala first-response organization, told The Jerusalem Post that he had been among the first medics to arrive and had begun administering first aid to Swerdloff.
“She was in critical condition when we got here. She had no pulse and wasn’t breathing,” Sofer said. “We did what we could, but it was too late. She was taken to the trauma unit at Hadassah Ein-Kerem Hospital where she was pronounced dead.
“You see a lot of things in this line of work,” he said. “But to see a little girl lying in the street like that – it’s just shocking. It’s a horrible thing to see.”