New video footage today shows Eitan Biran and his family before a devastating Italian cable car accident that last month killed 14 people, including the 5-year-old boy’s parents and brother. The videos show the moment when a gondola lift was sent flying backward down the Italian Alps just before it reached its destination.
TG3, an Italian news outlet, published two videos that show the terrifying moment when the Italian cable car plunged after its cables broke. 5-year-old Eitan Biran is the sole survivor of the May 23 accident.
Inside the cable car were 15 passengers, including Biran and his family, who can be seen sightseeing in the footage just before the cable snaps. The incident killed his parents, Amit Biran, 30, and Tal Peleg-Biran, 26, his 2-year-old brother, Tom, and his great-grandparents, Barbara Cohan, 71, and Yitzhak Cohen, 81. Eitan Biran only survived because his father shielded him when the cable car fell, using his body to cushion the young boy from the landing.
Eitan Biran is suffering from post-traumatic amnesia, according to a hospital spokesperson. It’s unclear whether he remembers what happened, or what the extent of his psychological injuries is. He was discharged from the hospital last week after 18 days of treatment, but his recovery is expected to take upwards of 2 months.
“He is slowly learning what happened from his relatives and from the psychologists who are supporting him,” said attorney Cristina Pigna, who was hired by Aya Biran, Eitan’s aunt. “He has found out about the consequences of the tragedy in the manner agreed upon by doctors, specialists, and family members. We are talking about a long and delicate process.”
Along with psychological trauma, Biran sustained chest and abdomen injuries during the accident and was airlifted to a nearby hospital where he was intubated and sedated before waking up. He was eventually moved to Regina Margherita children’s hospital in Turin where he stayed before being discharged last week.
Aya Biran, Amit’s sister, is taking care of Eitan, along with her husband and two daughters. The family lives in Pavia, which is 35k km south of Milan. According to Pigna, “his aunt, paternal grandmother, and maternal grandfather are next to him,” and “other relatives have come up from Israel” to support his healing process. She continued, saying “it is a large family that is doing everything possible to help him together with the psychologists.”
“It is a delicate but necessary moment which must be respected one hundred percent,” said lawyer Armando Simbari, who is working to gather details of the incident that Eitan may remember.” While psychologists work to help Eitan cope with the tragedy, the family is still searching for answers, as are authorities.
In the video, the cable car slowly moves toward its destination at the other side of the mountain, but in a flash, the gondola is jolted backward away from the station and zooms down the mountain at a horrifying speed. The cable car eventually detaches from the cable system and falls, the impact killing several of the victims instantaneously. Some others were still alive when rescue workers pulled them from the wreckage but died at the hospital.
Italian police have arrested three men in connection to the accident after it was identified that the emergency brakes were deactivated. Luigi Nerini, 56, Gabriele Tadini, 63, and Enrico Perocchio, 51, are members of Ferrovie Mottarone, the company that manages the cableway. All three were taken into custody.
Roberta Pistolato was another victim of the Italian cable car disaster. She was a frontline worker during Italy’s battle against Covid-19. Pistolato was celebrating her 40th birthday with her boyfriend, 45-year-old Angelo Gasparro. Just before getting on the gondola, Pistolato had texted her sister that “we’re getting on the cable car.”
A 55-year-old man, Vittorio Zorloni, and his 37-year-old partner Elisabetta Personini were killed during the accident, along with their 5-year-old son. The couple was killed when the car hit the ground, but their son died at the hospital after rescue workers pulled him out from the debris.
Two others were killed during the incident, a 27-year-old scientist, Serena Cosetino, and her boyfriend, Mohammed Reza Shahisavandi, a 30-year-old student from Iran. Silvia Malnati and Alessandro, 27 and 29 respectively, were also among the victims. The couple was engaged and was awaiting their nuptials.