Cable car crash survivor 'kidnapped' by maternal grandfather. Editorial credit: e_matveeva /

‘Kidnap’ of Eitan Biran: 6-year-old cable car crash survivor

By Region News North-west Italy

Authorities launch an investigation after the only survivor of the deadly cable car crash in May, was taken to Israel by his grandfather.

Eitan Biran’s parents, younger brother and two of his great grandparents were among 14 people killed in the accident.

The boy had been staying with a paternal aunt in Italy since being released from hospital. However, Eitan’s maternal relatives in Israel had sought custody.

Eitan’s family had lived in Italy for several years before the crash; his paternal aunt Aya Biran-Nirko was granted custody in June.

Grandfather flew him out on private jet

Eitan’s maternal grandfather, Shmulik Peleg, moved to Italy after the crash and had visitation rights. On Saturday, he took the boy out. Corriere della Sera newspaper reported Mr Peleg drove Eitan to Lugano, Switzerland where they boarded the jet to Tel Aviv. He used Eitan’s Israeli passport. Israeli diplomats have since confirmed his arrival in the country.

The newspaper states Mr Peleg made the decision as he believed the boy was in poor “mental and physical condition”.  

Eitan’s maternal aunt Gali Peleg filed for adoption in August, claiming the boy was a hostage in Italy. “We did not kidnap Eitan… we brought him home,” she told Israel’s Radio 103FM on Sunday. She also claimed Eitan’s parents had wanted to return to Israel prior to the crash.

However, Eitan’s paternal aunt described the news as “another tragedy for Eitan. Italian media report prosecutors have opened a kidnapping investigation.

Crash investigation still underway

The cable car crash that killed Eitan’s parents and twelve others is still being investigated. Prosecutors believe the emergency brakes had been deliberately disabled.  

This meant when the main cable broke, there was nothing to stop it reversing at over 100kmh on the support cable. It passed a pylon and them plummeted to the mountainside.

Along with a technician, who admitted installing a fork-shaped bracket to deactivate the emergency brake, a number of other people are currently under investigation.

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