Yesterday, I witnessed a horrible tragedy while I was traveling on Highway 6.
My wife Gitty and I decided to take our children and grandson for a vacation up to Tiberias. We were driving with my son Yisrael, daughter, and son-in-law Penina and Uri, and baby Gabby when we received a notification on the United Hatzalah emergency application that there was an accident a mile away from our location.
We arrived at the scene within 3 minutes and saw a car in terrible condition. We all jumped into action, trying to help whoever we could. The driver and father of the family was in critical condition, and his 17-year-old daughter was conscious but very badly hurt and in a lot of pain. Two other children were also in the car, a young boy who was trying to save his father and a 2-year-old who was thankfully ok still in the car seat but needed to be treated for light injuries.
Gitty and I began CPR on the driver, and only then I realized that this severely injured man was my good friend Chaim HarKesef. My son-in-law Uri was treating the 17-year-old daughter, and several other United Hatzalah volunteers arrived and helped with treating all 3 patients.
Upon the arrival of Chaim’s wife and children at the scene of the accident- they were also traveling, but in a separate car – my daughter Penina stayed with them and helped them cope while my son Yisrael went to help clean up and move everything from the crashed vehicle to Chaim’s wife’s car.
We worked hard to save Chaim. For nearly 30 minutes we maintained CPR until the ambulance arrived and transported him to the hospital. Traffic was horrendous, and the entire road was blocked. We did everything we possibly could to save him. We attached a defibrillator which administered a shock and we provided advanced life support. But in spite of our efforts, Chaim passed away in the Hospital.
We escorted his family to a nearby United Hatzalah volunteer center in Yokneam, where members of our Phsycotrauma and Crisis Response Unit met with them to help them process the devastating news. Their uncle picked them up and brought them back to Jerusalem where Chaim Z”L is being buried tonight.
Chaim was an incredibly special person who I knew for 28 years. He was a volunteer EMT and a great friend who always had a smile on his face. He was devoted to saving people’s lives, and it breaks my heart that we could not save him.
I am so proud of my family for their professionalism and am beyond grateful for all of the United Hatzalah volunteers who are everywhere in the country and always available with their equipment to stop and assist in emergencies, even on their way to vacation.
This accident was one of many that occurred yesterday. Please drive safely on the roads so we can avoid such tragedies!
Eli Beer is the founder and president of United Hatzalah of Israel.