Daniel Ketley, a top Muay Thai fighter, suffered extensive and, in some instances, life-threatening injuries in an incident near Soi Saiyuan in Naiharn on June 8, sometime between 12.30am and 2am.
Daniel left a friend’s house in Laguna around half past midnight, on his way to the Rawai/Naiharn area to see another friend. His last memory is of being in the Soi Saiyuan area, near Icon Bar and the 7-Eleven, and seeing a self-service petrol pump. After that it’s all a blank. He believes he may have stopped for petrol and been attacked then.
Police in Chalong are treating him as yet another motorbike crash victim, but Daniel and his family, friends and family doctor, dispute this.
They believe he was hit on the head several times with something hard and then robbed of his wallet, with B400 inside, his insurance ID card and his mobile phone. The police point out, logically, that until Daniel remembers more, they can’t do much else.
One thing is sure; he was not drunk. A blood test showed he had drunk around one or two standard alcoholic drinks that night.
Daniel was picked up by an ambulance and taken to Vachira Phuket Hospital at around 2am. His parents, Stephen and Debbie Ketley, who also live in Phuket, were called at around 8am the next day, and were told he had been in a motorbike accident.
They found Daniel with a fractured skull which required 45 stitches, haemorrhaging and compression on the brain, air bubbles in the brain, a shattered eye socket, jaw broken in three places, four lost teeth, a fractured vertebra, nerve damage to his neck and shoulder, and a fracture in the skull between his nose and upper lip. He spent five hours in surgery undergoing facial reconstruction.
He was fitted with a plate in his right cheek and his jaw, and still has no feeling in his right arm. He is now being cared for at his parents’ home and being monitored by a family friend who is a doctor. He will visit Bangkok Phuket Hospital later this week to see a neurologist and have CT scans.
Both parents, and everyone who has visited Daniel at the hospital and at home, where he is now recovering, believes the circumstances are too suspicious for it to be a motorbike accident.
“His injuries are consistent with being hit by a club or something – not a bike accident. When I saw him, I was wondering why he didn’t have any grazes,” Ms Ketley said.
“There are too many clean breaks,” she said.
His motorbike had no scrapes, either, the only damage being to the front, consistent with being hit by something, and the two rear view mirrors were smashed.
The T-shirt and jeans Daniel was wearing at the time were wet from the rain, but had no mud, gravel, rips or damage.
Daniel believes it was a random attack because, he says, he was not aware of anyone who would want to harm him, and even if they did, he said his movements were usually pretty unpredictable for anyone to follow him.
For example, only his best friend knew he was going down to Naiharn to visit a friend in an area quite a way from his home in Thalang.
“I know I can’t have crashed. I know the roads very well, and the damage to my body... if I had crashed I would have put my hands down for sure, but they aren’t grazed.”
Mrs Ketley said, “Some people have said he may have been targetted because he is a high profile fighter, but it’s just speculation.”
Daniel has lived in Phuket for three years as a full time Muay Thai boxer with Sumalee Boxing Gym, near Laguna Phuket. He trains every day and fights regularly, with a lot of success, and his family say he is probably one of the top foreign Muay Thai fighters in Phuket.
Daniel had medical insurance cover but his care at Vachira has meant it is now maxed out at B115,000. He still has cover left for a room stay and other services, but friends are rallying to raise funds for future medical care. They have set up a Facebook page with links to a Paypal account.
The family’s main concern now is getting him back to full health.
But also on their minds is an awareness campaign about the dangers of driving alone at night around the area. Following the attack, Mr and Mrs Ketley have been told of a number of other attacks and robberies around the same area, in circumstances similar to Daniel’s.
They are hoping the community, and ideally the Government, will get together and install more lights and cameras in the notoriously dark area, and have more police on duty in the area.
“Something has to be done,” Mrs Ketley said. “I would like to raise a campaign for foreigners to be aware of the dangers. But the Government needs to take action too – it’s not good for tourism.”
The Daniel Ketley Fund fundraising Facebook page can be found by searching on Facebook under "pages". Anyone who has any information about the incident is asked to contact the family at email@example.com.