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Florida man charged after killing Jewish woman with his car as she was walking to synagogue

By Mason White 4:06 PM March 19, 2014
Michael Fortunato 

By: Hydar Tomar
(Scroll down for video) A man was charged with traffic violations after killing a Jewish woman and injuring her daughter while they were walking to a synagogue, police in Florida said.

The driver hit the two women while they were crossing a Mandarin road, the Florida Highway Patrol said.

Michael Fortunato is being charged with reckless driving, failure to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk and driving with an expired license.

Police have closed its criminal investigation into the pedestrian accident that killed 57-year-old Esther Ohayon and wounded 16-year-old Orly Ohayon while they were trying to cross San Jose Boulevard and Haley Road, but the charges against Fortunato are moving violations and not criminal charges as some expected.

Rabbi Yaakov Fisch of the Etz Chaim Synagogue said he is disappointed with the charges. As we reported earlier, Jacksonville Police said that a woman is dead and her daughter is at the University of Florida Health Hospital in Jacksonville, after both were hit by a vehicle on Friday night, across the street from San Jose Boulevard.

They were on their way to attend a Yom Kippur service in a synagogue. Esther Benzohar Ohayon, 57, of Jacksonville, was pronounced dead at the scene. Ohayon and her daughter Orly, 16, were crossing the street at Haley Road when a Toyota Camry traveling southbound hit them, according to authorities.

Michael Fortunato of Jacksonville, was listed as the driver of the Camry, according to documents of the Florida Highway Patrol. Fortunato was arrested at the scene.

Orly Ohayon is expected to recover after surgery. Esther Ohayon was a member of the Chabad-Lubavitch synagogue on Haley Road.