World renowned Israeli psychologist Shlomo Bentin, a guest lecturer at U.C. Berkeley, was killed on the afternoon of July 13 while riding his bicycle in Berkeley.
Bentin, 65, apparently was hit by a dump truck accidentally as he was cycling on Bancroft Way near the campus. Berkeley police officers dispatched to the scene said his helmet had been shattered.
Passersby and paramedics tried to resuscitate him, but he was declared dead a short while later at Oakland’s Highland Hospital.
Bentin was a world expert in cognitive neuropsychology and winner of the 2012 Israel Prize in psychology.
Born in Romania, Bentin came to Israel as a teen. He received his medical degree from the Technion University in Haifa, and his Ph.D. at the Hebrew University Medical School, where he later headed the neuropsychology department, specializing in face perception, attention and memory.
According to reports, the driver of the dump truck realized he had hit Bentin. He fled, but eventually returned to the scene of the accident, where he was questioned by investigators. He cooperated with the police and was not arrested.
Last year Bentin and his wife, attorney Miri Bentin, moved to Berkeley, where he continued his research on face perception. The couple was supposed to return to Israel in September to be near their three children and seven grandchildren.
The couple’s daughter, Einat Bentin-Kaplan, told Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth that her father was a sports enthusiast who enjoyed cycling and skiing.
“Father was a fascinating man with vast knowledge in various fields,” she said. “He was a warm person who always gave good advice. He was thrilled to receive the Israel Prize and considered it a great honor.”
Bentin traveled to U.C. Berkeley every year to be a guest lecturer within the Department of Psychology, according to the Daily Californian.
“Students really liked him,” Bentin’s son, Shai Bentin, told the Daily Cal. “He was a good father and family man. He affected so many people. [The family is] getting letters from students we didn’t know existed and many of his co-workers.”
The campus was to hold a memorial honoring Bentin on July 18 at Tolman Hall, the campus’ psychology building, according to the Daily Cal.
The collision occurred near the intersection of Bancroft Way and Fulton Street, about one block west of Shattuck Avenue.
Berkeley Police Department spokesperson Jennifer Coats said the department was actively investigating the incident this week.
J. staff writer Dan Pine contributed to this report.