Police and rescuers at the site of the Italian cable car disaster, May 23, 2021. (AP/Italian Police ) (AP/Italian Police )
Italy Cable Car Deaths

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Eitan Biran woke up in an Italian hospital three days after the cable car crash that killed the other members of his family.

By Yakir Benzion, United With Israel

One Wednesday, five-year-old Eitan Biran opened his eyes in the intensive care unit of an Italian hospital for the first time since he was critically injured in a cable car disaster in Italy.

Eitan was the sole survivor.

Fourteen people, including Eitan’s father Amit Biran, his mother Tal, his two-year-old brother Tom and his grandparents Barbara and Yitzhak Cohen, perished on Sunday when the cable car fell off its track and rolled down the mountainside, scattering bodies before crashing into trees that stopped its forward momentum.

A spokeswoman for the Regina Margherita Children’s Hospital in the Italian city of Turin said Eitan was most likely saved because his father was hugging him when the cable car crashed into the mountain.

“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 spokeswoman said in a report carried by the Italian la Repubblica newspaper and reported by Times of Israel.

Rescuers arrived at the scene about 15 minutes after the disaster, finding only the two little boys alive. Tom died after being evacuated to the hospital and Eitan was in an induced coma until Thursday as doctors worked to stabilize his condition.

The doctors reduced the amount of sedative and on Thursday Eitan slowly came out of the coma.

“This is a very delicate phase. This will be a gradual return to consciousness, it will require time and psychological aid. He already opened his eyes and it is important for him to see a familiar face beside him,” one of the attending doctors said.

His aunt Aya, Amit Biran’s sister, who is a doctor in Italy, has been at his bedside for the past three days. She is accompanied by a child psychologist who has the difficult task of eventually letting Eitan know that his family was killed.

Italian police have made three arrests in the incident, with reports indicating that responsible parties admitted to disconnecting a critical emergency brake before the disaster. The eight Italian victims of the disaster were buried earlier this week and the final victim was identified as a 23-year-old Iranian national who was on the cable car with his Italian girlfriend.

The coffins of the five Biran family members arrived in Israel Wednesday and Eitan’s mother, father and little brother were laid to rest Thursday morning. The funerals for his grandparents will take place on Friday.

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