PRACHUAP KHIRI KHAN: Among the millions of Thais reveling in celebration to welcome the 2019 New Year were tens of thousands set back from their own injuries, or those of “lucky” and “unlucky” friends or family members who were the latest statistics on Thailand’s infamous roads.
On the final day of 2018, five days into the so called “week of danger”, Prachuap Khiri Khan was leading West Thailand in the biannual nationwide competition for road carnage. On December 31, Thai Post reported Prachuap’s body count at four, with 14 injuries. Though these numbers qualified the province for dishonorable mention, the trophy this year would end up going to Northeast Thailand’s Nakhon Ratchasima province, where 25 died and 137 were injured; Southern Thailand’s Nakhon Sri Thammarat claimed the most accidents with 137. According to official statistics, two-fifths of the accidents were linked to drunk-driving; 28% to speeding; and just under four-fifths (79.6%) involved motorbikes. All in, from 3,791 accidents reported between 27 December 2018 to 2 January 2019, 463 across Thailand died on scene, while another 3,892 had injuries, some no doubt life-threatening
Prachuap in the news
The first Prachuap casualty reported during the deadly week was that of 51-year-old boat mechanic who succumbed to injuries sustained after smashing a motorbike into an oncoming six-wheeler seafood container truck near the coast of the Mae Rampeung sub district in Bang Saphan district (ต.แม่รำพึง อ.บางสพาน). Matichon cited an account from the truck driver that the motorbike driver met his end attempting to overtake another vehicle. A 47-year-old woman from Chiang Rai, presumed to be riding pillion on the motorbike, also sustained two broken legs in the incident.
On December 29, a 33-year-old man from Nonthaburi was killed in the area of Tung Tako village of the Bo Nok sub district in Muang district (บ้านทุ่งโก ต.บ่อนอก อ.เมือง), after smashing the BMW he was driving into a tree in the ditch separating north-south traffic. Thai Rat reported that police speculate that he either fell asleep at the wheel or was driving too fast when he lost control.
Also on December 29 near Makham Phrong village of the Ao Noi sub district in Muang district (บ้านมะขามโพรง ต.อ่าวน้อย อ.เมือง), a 78-year-old handicapped man attempting to cross Phet Kasem highway by foot was struck dead by a south-bound tour-bus driven by a 70-year-old man, reports Khao Sod.
On the same day, near Moo 10 village of Chai Kasem sub-district in Bang Saphan district (หมู่ที่ 10 ต.ชัยเกษม อ.บางสะพาน) four injuries – including one 29-year-old woman and three children (two nine-year-olds and one six-year-old) – were reported after a north-bound white Toyota Camry reportedly headed for Hua Hin slammed into a roadside tree, Khao Sod reports
Around the exact same time of this accident, another Prachuap holiday-period accident occurring would go on to receive some national attention in the case of 11-year-old Wanraya Wannapong or “Nong Milk” the 11-year-old girl who was recently named the world’s youngest drone racing champion after winning a competition in Shenzhen China.
On December 29 in Tap Sakae district, the Toyota pickup truck that Nong Milk was riding in with four other relatives was reported totaled in the traffic island ditch separating north and south bound lanes of Phetkasem Road. The truck had
allegedly lost control and crashed into trees in the ditch after another unidentified vehicle crashed into their vehicle from behind, before fleeing the scene.
In the incident Nong Milk sustained a minor head injury, while two other passengers in her vehicle had been treated for “critical” injuries at Prachuap Hospital. After the family was reportedly billed for more than THB5,000 by the Highways Department for damage to the two trees, they turned to social media and the provincial government seeking justice.
They were reportedly distressed after getting a bill for damages to the trees even though insisting they were not negligent, but the victims of a hit-and-run, noting that even after three days had passed, they still had yet to give an official statement to authorities about the accident.
Nonetheless, Prachuap Khiri Khan Vice Governor, Phirom Ninthaya ordered the Highways Department to retract the bill until the investigation could be concluded.