Wednesday, January 26th | 24 Shevat 5782

January 5, 2022 12:51 pm

Mother of Sole Survivor of IDF Helicopter Crash: ‘We’re Thankful for The Miracle That Happened to Us’

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

Policemen speak with Israelis as they hold parts of a military helicopter at the shore after it crashed off the coast of the Mediterranean near Haifa, as local media said, on Jan. 3, 2022. Photo: Reuters/Rami Shlush

The mother of Capt. Ron Birman, the sole survivor of Monday night’s IDF helicopter crash off the coast of Haifa, spoke to Israeli radio on Wednesday, saying she and her husband are “thankful for the miracle that happened to us.”

The helicopter’s two pilots, Maj. Chen Fogel, aged 27, and Lt. Col. Erez Sachyani, a 38-year-old married father of three, were killed in the crash. Initial reports have indicated that a fire in one of the helicopter’s engines may have caused the accident.

Israel’s Walla news reported that Marina Birman recounted that the Birman family was initially informed of the incident by Ron’s girlfriend and “we understood that he was in the heart of the sea, two kilometers from the shore, after he tried to save his friends. That’s how we understood that he survived.”

Her son, she said, “tried after [the crash] to extract his friends, the pilots. He was certain they survived. He tried to extract them several times; but in the end, he understood that it wasn’t going to happen.”

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Marina, her husband, and their youngest child arrived at Rambam Hospital, where they were updated on Ron’s condition, which was described as stable.

“It’s one of the miracles we’ve had,” she said.

She described Ron, who was born in the United States and made aliyah with his family at the age of one-and-a-half, as “a good student … very active.”

Part of Ron’s military training, she notes, took place in the US, where he learned emergency procedures for saving victims injured in a water landing.

Marina added that Ron had received strong support from the IDF and his loved ones, saying that “commanders, soldiers, friends, family were with him and at his side.”

“We are definitely wrapped up in a lot of love and warmth from the army, and we’re thankful for it,” she said.

She also extended her condolences to the parents of the pilots who died in the crash.

“There is no catastrophe worse than what might have happened,” she said of Ron’s survival. “Me and my husband are thankful for the miracle that happened to us.”

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