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Third Australian injured in Israeli bridge collapse dies

July 26, 1997

JERUSALEM (AP) _ A third Australian athlete injured when a bridge collapsed at the opening of the Maccabiah Games two weeks ago has died, hospital and team officials said early Saturday.

Elizabeth Sawicki was injured July 14 when a temporary span collapsed into the Yarkon River as about 100 members of the Australian team were crossing it, preparing to enter a stadium as part of opening ceremonies. Dozens of athletes were injured.

Sawicki, 47, a member of the bridge team, died overnight at the hospital in Afula. Gregory Small, 37, and Yetty Bennett, 50, both members of the bowling team, died the day of the accident.

The ``Jewish Olympics,″ a quadrennial sporting event that attracted some 5,600 athletes from more than 50 countries to Israel, ended Thursday.

A government inquiry found negligence on the part of almost everyone involved with the bridge _ a temporary structure made of wooden planks supported by metal rods _ from the games’ organizers to the engineer who designed it and the builders.

According to a committee of engineering professors from Israel’s Technion university that investigated the collapse, ``a chain of failures″ led to the collapse, including failure to meet standard weight specifications, poor coordination between the planners and builders, faulty construction with damaged or substandard materials by unqualified builders, improperly positioned materials and incomplete welding, and lack of supervision and control.

Police have launched a criminal investigation into the collapse and media reports said several indictments were expected.

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