Tag Archives: Medic

Israeli medic: Nearly 40 people killed in stampede at religious festival

JERUSALEM — The director of an Israeli ambulance service has confirmed that nearly 40 people died in a stampede at a religious festival in northern Israel.

Eli Beer, director of Hatzalah, said he was shocked by the size of the crowd at the Lag BaOmer celebrations at Mount Meron. Police were quoted as saying some 100,000 people were there.

He told Army Radio that there were four to five times the number of people that should have entered a location like this. “Close to 40 people died as a result of this tragedy,” he said.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS EVENT. AP’s earlier story is below.

A stampede broke out early Friday at a Jewish religious gathering attended by tens of thousands of people in northern Israel, leaving 150 hospitalized, authorities said. Israeli media reported that as many as 44 people were killed and published photos of rows of bodies.

The disaster occurred at Mount Meron at the main celebrations of Lag BaOmer, a holiday when tens of thousands of people, mostly ultra-Orthodox Jews, gather to honor Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, a 2nd century sage and mystic who is buried there. Large crowds traditionally light bonfires, pray and dance as part of the celebrations.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called it a “great tragedy,” and said everyone was praying for the victims.

The incident happened after midnight, and the cause of the stampede was not immediately clear. Videos circulating on social media showed large numbers of ultra-Orthodox Jews packed together in tight spaces.

A 24-year-old witness, identified only by his first name Dvir, told the Army Radio station that “masses of people were pushed into the same corner and a vortex was created.” He said a first row of people fell down, and then a second row, where he was standing, also began to fall down from the pressure of the stampede.

“I felt like I was about to die,” he said.

Zaki Heller, spokesman for the Magen David Adom rescue service, said 150 people had been hospitalized and confirmed there had been some deaths. Army Radio, citing anonymous medical officials, said the death toll had risen to 44.

Heller told the station “no one had ever dreamed” something like this could happen. “In one moment, we went from a happy event to an immense tragedy,” he said.

Photos from the scene showed rows of wrapped bodies.

The Israeli military said it had dispatched medics and search and rescue teams along with helicopters to assist with a “mass casualty incident” in the area. It did not provide details on the nature of the disaster.

It was the first huge religious gathering to be held legally since Israel lifted nearly all restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic. The country has seen cases plummet since launching one of the world’s most successful vaccination campaigns late last year.

Health authorities had nevertheless warned against holding such a large gathering.

But when the celebrations started, the Public Security Minister Amir Ohana, police chief Yaakov Shabtai and other top officials visited the event and met with police, who had deployed 5,000 extra forces to maintain order.

Ohana, a close ally of Netanyahu, thanked police for their hard work and dedication “for protecting the well-being and security for the many participants” as he wished the country a happy holiday.

Netanyahu is struggling to form a governing coalition ahead of a Tuesday deadline, and the national tragedy is sure to complicate those efforts.

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Author: AP

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Officer Who Pepper-Sprayed a Black Army Medic Is Fired, Officials Say

A police officer in Virginia who confronted a uniformed Black Army medic at gunpoint and doused him with pepper spray during a traffic stop, an exchange captured on video, has been fired, officials said on Sunday.

The officer, Joe Gutierrez, was terminated for his role in the Dec. 5 encounter involving Caron Nazario, a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Medical Corps, the town of Windsor, Va., said in a statement posted on its website[1].

Officials said an internal investigation had determined that Mr. Gutierrez’s actions were not consistent with the department’s policies. They did not provide further details on when Mr. Gutierrez had been fired.

Body camera footage of the encounter[2] has drawn widespread attention and criticism of Mr. Gutierrez, as well as another officer who was also involved in the traffic stop. Both officers were sued on April 2 in U.S. District Court in Norfolk by Lieutenant Nazario, who has accused the officers of using excessive force and violating his constitutional rights.

Windsor, a rural town of about 2,700 people that is about 30 miles west of Norfolk, said in the statement on Sunday that it had requested an investigation into the traffic stop by the Virginia State Police.

“The town of Windsor prides itself on its small-town charm and the community-wide respect of its Police Department,” the town said. “Due to this, we are saddened for events like this to cast our community in a negative light. Rather than deflect criticism, we have addressed these matters with our personnel administratively, we are reaching out to community stakeholders to engage in dialogue, and commit ourselves to additional discussions in the future.”

There was no lawyer listed for Mr. Gutierrez in court records, and efforts to reach him on Sunday night were not immediately successful.

Earlier on Sunday, Gov. Ralph Northam of Virginia, a Democrat, said on social media[3] that he had begun an outside review of the encounter.

“The incident in Windsor is disturbing and angered me — and I am directing the Virginia State Police to conduct an independent investigation,” Mr. Northam said. “Our Commonwealth has done important work on police reform, but we must keep working to ensure that Virginians are safe during interactions with police, the enforcement of laws is fair and equitable, and people are held accountable.”

Mr. Northam said that he would invite Lieutenant Nazario to meet with him for a discussion about police reform.

A lawyer for Lieutenant Nazario did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Sunday night.

The medic was driving to Petersburg, Va., from a drill weekend the night of Dec. 5 when he saw police lights flashing behind him.

According to the lawsuit and video footage of the encounter, Lieutenant Nazario, who is Black and Latino, drove about a mile to a gas station because he had been nervous about stopping on a darkened road.

“Get out of the car,” one officer can be heard yelling as Lieutenant Nazario, remaining seated, repeatedly asks why he has been stopped and why the officers have drawn their guns. He positions his empty hands outside the window.

“I’m honestly afraid to get out of the car,” Lieutenant Nazario says.

“Yeah,” says Mr. Gutierrez, according to footage from his body camera. “You should be.”

Lieutenant Nazario was wearing his Army uniform at the time.

“I’m serving this country and this is how I’m treated?” he says. “What’s going on?”

“What’s going on is you’re fixing to ride the lightning, son,” Mr. Gutierrez yells.

After he was sprayed, Lieutenant Nazario began crying and cursing.

The police officers did not arrest Lieutenant Nazario and did not file charges.

In a report from that night, the officers said they had pulled over Lieutenant Nazario because his S.U.V. did not have license plates. Lieutenant Nazario said he had recently bought a Chevrolet Tahoe and was waiting for license plates. Temporary ones had been taped inside the rear window and were visible, according to the lawsuit.

References

  1. ^ said in a statement posted on its website (www.windsor-va.gov)
  2. ^ Body camera footage of the encounter (www.nytimes.com)
  3. ^ said on social media (www.facebook.com)

Neil Vigdor