Lone Survivor of Italian Cable Car Crash Is Subject of Custody Battle

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The grandfather of a 6-year-old boy who survived an accident that killed his parents in May is being investigated after being taken to Israel.

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ROME – Eaton Byrne, the lone survivor of a cable car accident in May that killed 14 people, including his parents, has become the subject of a bitter custody dispute after his paternal relatives in Italy handed the boy over to his maternal grandfather in Israel. accused of carrying weekends without their consent.

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Eaton’s parents, a younger brother and two great-grandparents who immigrated from Israel, died on 23 May when a cable broke as the car was approaching its destination on a peak towards Lago Maggiore in Piedmont. Was. The car slid backwards before suddenly falling into a hill. 6-year-old Eaton was the only survivor.

The family drama, which has gripped Italy and is playing out publicly in Italian and international media, is part of a fallout from the disaster that struck a small community by the lake, which ravaged its economy during the pandemic. Gave.

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Several people, including the operator of the cable car and the owner of the company that manages it, are under investigation, but have not been formally charged.

The boy’s aunt Aya Biran was given custody of the child by an Italian court in Turin in May while he was still in hospital with serious injuries. According to Ms Biran’s lawyer Armando Simbari, although her condition has improved, she still requires medical care, both physical and mental.

But the family of the boy’s paternal relatives took issue with the custody decision, and in August his grandfather, Schmulik Peleg, hired lawyers to formally challenge it, said Paolo Sevesi, one of the lawyers.

Also in August, a civil court ruled that the boy could not leave Italy unless he was with Ms Biran, according to Mr Simbari.

Mr Simbari said he could not comment on how the boy was taken to Israel because of the ongoing investigation, but he accused Peleg of trying to “actually organize the international kidnapping of a minor after his arrival”. took advantage of the rights.”

The aunt filed a complaint with the prosecutor’s office, and on Monday Peleg was placed under investigation for kidnapping, Sevesi said, confirming Italian media reports.

The prosecutor did not respond to requests for comment, and Mr Peleg could not immediately be contacted for comment.

Mr Simbari, the aunt’s lawyer, said Eaton had lived in Italy since he was a year old and had both Italian and Israeli citizenship. The boy’s mother tongue was Italian, he said, although he also spoke Hebrew.

“We are very concerned because this child was turned away from a familiar environment, so this is the second trauma he experienced in May,” Mr Simbari said.

Jonathan Shamir contributed reporting from Tel Aviv.

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