Injured ex-Royal Marine returns home after Phuket ordeal
PHKUET: The almost two month ordeal of a former British Marine involved in a motorbike accident on Phuket has taken a positive turn, with the former soldier flying home to Wales on Wednesday night.
Thursday 20 October 2011, 05:57PM
Steven ‘Tommo’ Thomas, 39, was involved in an accident on the evening of September 6, not far from Wat Chalong. He had been in Phuket for just three weeks studying Muay Thai.
The father-of-two remains in a coma as a result of his injuries, but has shown signs of daily improvement in recent weeks and is now able to swallow soft foods with some assistance.
He is also able to move his eyes, arms and legs, and has reportedly been giving the physiotherapist a good workout during their daily sessions by offering strong resistance.
Mr Thomas was stable enough to be flown home several weeks ago, but there was some confusion about arrangements for his flight home.
He finally left Bangkok Hospital Phuket at around 7pm on Wednesday night, departing on a flight for Bangkok at around 10pm. A scheduled Thai Airways 747 then departed for London Heathrow at around 1am on Thursday, and he touched down in the UK at around 2pm yesterday (Thursday) Phuket time.
A number of seats on the plane were removed and converted for a patient evacuation, and Mr Thomas was accompanied on the flight by his mum Linda and a small medical team.
On arrival at Heathrow he was transported by ambulance to the Royal Gwent Hopital in Newport, Wales, where he will continue his rehabilitation.
The Royal Marines Association (RMA) in Phuket was instrumental in organising Steven’s return home. RMA Secretary Angie McCulley, who has been at Mr Thomas’ bedside daily alongside his mum Linda, posted on Facebook on Tuesday: “Steven has a long way to go on his road to recovery, but with the love and support of his family and friends around him, I have no doubt Steven will get there.”
Friends back home have been receiving daily updates via the ‘For Steve ‘Tommo’ Thomas’ Facebook page. The news of his return was met with an outpouring of emotion, with Mr Thomas’ friend Craig Summerhill posting: “Good effort Royal [Marine]... Let’s let him heal now in his own country. Big chuck up to all in Thailand, hopefully we will see you all next year. It’ll be one hell of a run ashore.”
Neil Walker added: “Oi bluebird I’ve been waiting for you, from Phuket to Cardiff friends forever, I will see you so soon mate.”
–Photo by Phuket Tourist Police Volunteers