The fight broke out at about 5am in front of the Poppa Palace hotel in Soi Jintana off Rat-U-Thit 200 Pi Rd.
Maj Eakkachai Siri of the Phuket Tourist Police called in regular officers from the Patong Police after he was notified of the fight, but by the time police arrived the tuk-tuk driver, Burin Sukhontharot, had left the scene.
A video clip of the fight went viral on social media sites. The video starts showing the American, Nicholas Martin De Haan, 28, from Oregon, and Burin already engaged in the fight, with a woman – later identified by police as only “Emma Frances”, 25, from England – on the ground.
Lt Col Saksan Khomsakorn of the Patong Police with fellow officers later yesterday afternoon tracked Burin to his accommodation in Thung Thong in Kathu, from where he was escorted back to Patong Police Station to remedy the situation with Mr Haan.
Mr De Haan, a guest at the hotel, and “Ms Emma” had shared a tuk-tuk from the end of Bangla Rd, police were told.
“I told them that the fare was B200, but Mr Haan paid only B40,” Burin told police.
“I tried to explain that the fare was B200, not B40, but Mr Haan was drunk and refused to pay. So we were arguing and then started fighting. I admit that I hit him in the face,” Burin said.
Mr Haan, recounting his version of events, told police, “I already asked how much the fare was before I got in the tuk-tuk. I thought that the fare was B20 per person. So I paid B40. I admit that I was drunk and that I hit Mr Burin.”
However, no mention was made of who struck first or how “Ms Emma” ended up on the ground.
Col Saksan told The Phuket News, “They were both charged with fighting in public and fined B2,000 each. We asked Mr Haan to have a medical check at a hospital to make sure he has not suffered any serious injuries.
“For Mr Burin, we will report this to the Phuket Land Transportation Office (PLTO),” Col Saksan added.
“I would like to warn every public transport driver that if they are in this kind of incident, please calm down and talk with customers,” Col Saksan said.
“If the problem cannot be resolved, please call the police. Please do not lose your temper and use physical force. It damages the province’s and the country’s image,” he added.