Dispute over surviving Eitan: Gondola accident from Monte Mottarone remains a mystery

On Pentecost Sunday 2021, a gondola crashes on Monte Mottarone in northern Italy.

Dispute over surviving Eitan: Gondola accident from Monte Mottarone remains a mystery

On Pentecost Sunday 2021, a gondola crashes on Monte Mottarone in northern Italy. 14 people die, only a little boy survives. A year later, the cause of the accident is still unknown and little Eitan is busy with the judiciary.

A young couple stands in front of a barricaded lattice door on Lake Maggiore in northern Italy. Above the access it says in big letters in Italian: Stresa-Mottarone cable car. "Is that closed?" the two ask each other. A year after the gondola crash that killed 14 people on the western shore of the popular lake, the facility, which leads from Stresa up to Monte Mottarone, is still confiscated because of the ongoing investigation into the Whit Sunday accident.

The accident happened shortly before noon on May 23, 2021: 15 people are in cabin number three, which is about to enter the mountain station. Suddenly the cable pulls and the gondola rushes down the valley. Images from a surveillance camera show how the cabin jumps out of its anchorage at the next cable car support and falls. She crashes on a steep slope between the trees.

There was no escape for the inmates. Only little Eitan from Israel survived with serious injuries - his parents, brother, great-grandparents and the other passengers did not. The accident would have been prevented if the emergency brakes provided for such cases had engaged a second cable, the carrying cable. However, these were blocked by a fork device because they were said to have previously caused operational disruptions. The judiciary is investigating twelve people, as prosecutor Olimpia Bossi says.

The wreck lay on the slope for months - it was only removed in November. The experts' report is expected on June 30th. According to Bossi, only then is it clear how to proceed. The "Corriere della Sera" reported on May 16, citing an informant, that it was suspected that the torn cable had rusted from the inside.

"We'll never know the reason for the crash anyway," says an elderly gentleman in a café at the train station in Stresa. "We're in Italy right now," he added with a shrug. Now another process will be conducted for ten years, and in the end everyone will be acquitted, his table neighbor suspects. "The tragedy of the cable car was a great trauma for the citizens," says Stresa Mayor Marcella Severino. Hotels and restaurants on the mountain complain because no tourists can take the gondola up. A barista who is tapping coffee out of the portafilter in the café next to the cable car tells the same story. Guests would have to take the car to reach the top.

After the disaster, little Eitan came to live with his paternal aunt, who lives in Pavia in Lombardy. A custody dispute with relatives in Israel broke out over the child. It culminated in the fact that the grandfather on the mother's side picked up the boy on September 11 for an agreed visit, but then flew to Israel via Switzerland with an accomplice. There the parties argued through all instances. After the Jerusalem Supreme Court ruled in November that the boy should be brought back to Italy, Eitan's grandfather's family has been very reticent in the media. In Israel, things have gone quiet over the past few months over the Eitan case. In January, Israeli television reported on lawyers' efforts to prevent the grandfather's extradition from Italy.

According to the media, Eitan was born in Israel, but moved to Italy with his parents shortly after birth. His aunt Aya Biran-Nirko said Pavia is the home of the boy, who should have started school in September. The court in Jerusalem also found: "There can be no doubt that the focus of the minor's life before his kidnapping to Israel was in Italy." But the matter was still not over. In Italy, the custody battle continues in the juvenile court, which appointed a third person as Eitan's guardian.

However, what happens from the cable car is unclear. Politicians and experts met at the beginning of May, as Mayor Marcella Severino explains. A safe and "innovative" system is required within a short period of time. Severino spoke out in favor of considering handing over the planning to a star architect.


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