Phang Nga City Police Chief Col Suwat Kaewprom told The Phuket News this afternoon that the van driver, Mr Prawit Raweewat, has been charged with reckless driving causing death and injury.
“He has been charged and paid a fine of B150,000. However, officers are still investigating whether the vehicle was registered to be used as public transport or not. If the van was being operated under the wrong category then Prawit’s licence might be suspended or revoked, but this will be up to the court to decide,” he said.
Chief Col Suwat added that the vehicle insurance company will take care of all expenses. “I was told that the insurance is first rate, but it has not yet been confirmed how much each victim will be compensated,” he said.
The deceased were named by police as:
1 Mr Stephane Sebastien Jean Peal, 46, French
2 Mr Patrick Andre Pessey (age not confirmed) French
3 Miss Jessica Paller, 40, Filipina
The injured foreigners who remain in hospital were named by police as:
1 Ms Ageenko Nadezhda, 3,2 Russian (in ICU at Phang Nga Hospital)
2 Mr Anam Wicaksona, 43, Indonesian (in Vachira Phuket Hospital)
3 Ms Baumgartner Verena, 38, Austrian (in Vachira Phuket Hospital)
4 Mr John Gary Olive, 48, British (in Vachira Phuket Hospital)
5 Mr Wennie Cajeras, 47, Filipino (in Phang Nga Hospital)
6 Miss Taresita Padewel, 53, Filipina (in Vachira Phuket Hospital)
Meanwhile, at 1pm yesterday, a group of Phang Nga officials led by Vice Governor Sripong Buthngamdee arrived at Phang Nga Hospital and were told that one of the injured passengers, Mr Cajeras, was in a critical condition so needed to be transferred to Vachira Phuket Hospital. His condition has since improved but he will still need to stay in the hospital for a couple days.
V/Gov Sripong said, “We were told that Prawit needed treatment for a head injury at Phang Nga Hospital and that his wife, who was also travelling in the van, is the only person that escaped with minor injuries.
“All the passengers were heading to Satun to renew their visas when the accident took place,” he said.
Phang Nga Governor Phakpong Taweewat ordered every department involved to follow the progress of the accident investigation, to take care of the injured victims, and to help contact related embassies.
“Many factors are to blame for this unfortunate accident including weather conditions, the road condition, a dangerous bend and way the van was being driven,” he said.
Ms Hathairat Kongchana of the Phang Nga Land Transport Office added that she suspected that the van was being used as public transport without a proper permit.
“When we ran a check on the licence plate it did not specify that it was a public transport vehicle. We are checking the registration and vehicle condition again so that we can punish the driver according to our laws and regulations,” she said.
As is required by law, the basic insurance coverage for victims of road accidents is B300,000 for those that die and B80,000 for injured victims. This may be more or less depending on the insurance that the company has, however, if it is first class insurance the aforementioned figures should be the amount the insurance company pays out.