In a matter of moments, everything was taken from five-year-old Eitan Biran and he was left fighting for his life.
Biran was one of 15 people in a cable car on Sunday in northern Italy, on the Stresa-Mottarone line. His family — including his father, mother, younger brother and two great-grandparents who were visiting — were all with him.
What was supposed to be a fun day with family, enjoying the mountain views near Mottarone Peak, turned into a disaster.
The cable car was nearly to the top of the line, with only a little over 100 yards to go, when the lead cable snapped, according to The Times of Israel. The car then reeled backward until it hit a pylon, fell about 50 feet, flipped several times down the mountain and came to rest in the trees.
The cause of the accident is unclear, though it appeared that no brake engaged. Of the 15 people on board, 13 were announced dead on the scene — with some being thrown from the car.
Two children survived, but 6-year-old Mattia — the other initial survivor — passed after being transported to the hospital and several failed attempts to restart his heart.
“[T]here was nothing more we could do,” hospital spokesman Pier Paolo Berra told Italian media, according to CBS News.
He is in serious condition with many broken bones, but doctors caring for him at Regina Margherita Hospital in Turin said it seems that the reason he’s even alive is because of his father’s last act of love.
“In order to be able to survive the terrible impact, it is likely that the father, who was of robust build, wrapped his son in a hug,” the hospital told the Italian la Repubblica newspaper, according to The Times of Israel.
“We await the next 48 hours,” Director of Health Services in Turin, Giovanni La Valle, added. “The situation is critical, but bodes well.”
The others who lost their lives in this tragedy include Serena Consentino (an Italian researcher) and her companion Mohammadreza Shahaisavandi, couple Silvia Malnati and Alessandro Merlo, couple Roberta Pistolato and Angelo Vito Gasparro (who were celebrating the latter’s birthday), and family Vittorio Zorloni, Elisabetta Persanini and their 6-year-old boy, Mattia.
“It was a terrible, terrible scene,” Mayor Marcella Severino told SkyTG24, according to CBS News.
In 2016, the line had been renovated, and it was inspected last year, but it had been closed during the lockdowns and just reopened recently. An investigation is being conducted to find the cause of the malfunction, especially as the site is a common tourist attraction.
As for Eitan, his aunt has been able to be at his side, and more family is flying in soon to be with him. Hopefully, he makes a full recovery and he and his remaining family can find comfort in this very difficult time.