A five-year-old boy who survived a cable car accident that killed his parents and little brother asked, “Where are mom and dad?” when he first stopped by the hospital.
Eitan Biran from Israel was the only one who escaped alive from the tragedy in the Alps that killed 14 people.
Among them were his mother Tal (26), his father Amit (30), his little brother Tom (two) and great-grandparents Yitzhak Cohen (81) and Barbara Koninsky (71).
Eitan has been in intensive care for most of the week since the accident but is now breathing on his own, although he still has difficulty speaking, according to Italian media.
It’s unclear whether he was told the devastating news that his parents, brother and great-grandparents are dead, but his aunt Aya, 41, has been at his bedside since he was admitted to the Regine Margherita Children’s Hospital in Turin.
He told her he had a sore throat when he woke up before asking where he was and why she was there.
Giovanni La Valle, the general director of the hospital, told the German newspaper BILD: “Sometimes Eitan asks about his parents, but whatever: his aunt is always with him.”
Eitan suffered abdominal and chest trauma and fractures to his limbs when the cable crash happened last week and is still in critical condition.
His psychologist Marina Bertolotti said it was important to be careful at this early stage.
“We don’t ask, but we need to be able to answer his questions,” she said. “To find the right answers, we need to work with his family. If he screams, you have to intervene. But otherwise we must first see what his psychological trauma is. ‘
The bodies of his mother, father, younger brother and great-grandparents were lined up at Milan Malpensa Airport on Wednesday before their return to Israel.
They were buried in Aviel the next day while Eitan’s aunt and grandparents stayed with him in the hospital.
During the treatment, the youngster was sent several gifts from well-wishers, including a fire helmet from one of the rescuers at the scene with his name on it.
Three families have also offered to adopt him after contacting Stresa Mayor Marcella Severino, who visited him earlier this week and described the crash as September 11th in their city.
“This is September 11th for Stresa,” said the mayor on Wednesday evening as the local priest delivered a message from the Pope during a service for the victims.
“The Holy Father thinks of so many tragically broken lives with emotion … and sends his prayers to the victims and for little Eitan,” Father Gianluca Villa told the community, which included firefighters, nurses and carabinieri belonging to the Mottarone Berg stormed the Alps after the fall of the cable car.
A total of 14 people died on Sunday when the cable car that had carried passengers from the resort of Stresa to Mount Mottarone in northern Italy’s Piedmont region fell to the ground.
The rescuers found five bodies in the car, the others all outside.
In addition to Eitan’s relatives, the dead also included Alessandro Merlo (29) and his fiancée Silvia Malnati (27); Husband Angelo Vito Gasparro, 45, and wife Roberta Pistolato; Vittorio Zorloni, his fiancée Elisabetta Persanini (38) and the couple’s five-year-old son, Mattia; and lovers Serena Cosentino, 27, and Mohammadreza Shahaisavandi, 23.
There were initially two child survivors who were flown to a hospital in Turin, but while Eitan survived the other child, understood as Mattia, he later died.
The first funerals of some victims took place in Italy and Israel on Thursday.
Local reports suggest that the cable may have failed about 300 m from the top of the mountain, dropped about 20 m to the ground, and then rolled down the slope before being stopped by trees.
Luigi Nerini, 56, head of Ferrovie del Mottarone, the company that manages the cable car, was arrested on Wednesday along with his two colleagues Gabriele Tadini and Enrico Perocchio.
They are charged with disabling the braking system, which may have prevented the tragedy and could face a 30-year prison sentence.
Nerini is waiting for the indictment in a cell in Verbania prison, but according to FIGURE 14 he could face manslaughter, in which he could be detained for 30 years.
Tadini, a technician, told the judges on Thursday: “It’s all my fault.” La Republicca reported and stated that he had deliberately tampered with the brakes to avoid delays after a malfunction.
However, investigators say that disabling the brakes – which could have prevented the car from flying backwards when the cable snapped – was approved by his senior colleagues Nerini and Perocchio.
Investigators claim the two managers were “repeatedly briefed and both Perocchio and Nerini approved the election”.
“It was a conscious decision, absolutely conscious. That’s it, ”prosecutor Olimpia Bossi told reporters.
“It wasn’t an occasional omission or forgetfulness. It was a conscious decision to disarm this emergency system … disarm, to fix what we were told were problems, technical issues that were occurring on the line, ”she added.
Although a maintenance team reportedly came on May 3 to fix the technical issues, they remained unsolved, Carabinieri local police officer Alberto Cicognani told Radiotre Radio.
“To avoid further business interruptions, they have chosen to stay in the fork, which will prevent the emergency brake from working,” added Cicognani.
Bossi said the fork had been used multiple times, suggesting the cable car had been unsafe for some time.