Capt Thanakrit Amchonkham of the Chalong Traffic Police told The Phuket News today (Sept 23) that he was informed of the accident at about 5:50pm on Friday.
“I think she was riding the motorbike northbound when she misjudged the curve inside the underpass and hit with kerb on the opposite side of the road,” he said.
“When we arrived she was lying on the road. There was a lot of blood. She was still alive and still consciousness. She said she was in a lot of pain,” he added.
“But her condition is very serious case with many injuries. She suffered three distinct wounds to her head and forehead. She also suffered a broken pelvis, seven broken ribs and a broken arm,” Capt Thanakrit said.
However, Capt Thanakrit declined to answer any further questions, explaining that Lt Col Prasit Ra-ob of the Chalong Police was now the officer responsible for investigating the incident.
Lt Col Prasit identified the woman as 35-year-old Russian national Olesia Mailian, from Leningrad (currently Saint Petersburg).
“I went to see her at hospital. She is in serious condition, but thankfully not in critical condition,” he said.
Lt Col Prasit explained that he had asked Ms Mailian what had happened in the tunnel, but noted, “I asked, but she is unable to talk at length about anything at the scene. I went to the hospital with a Russian translator, but she really could not to talk about or explain the accident.
“At this stage I am waiting for her to get better before asking her more in-depth questions,” he said.
Lt Col Prasit said that he was not even sure whether Ms Mailian was wearing a helmet at the time of the accident, “I have spoken Traffic Police who were at the scene, but I still do not know yet,” he said.
Lt Col Prasit did note that he had asked doctors to confirm Ms Mailian’s blood-alcohol levels, but said that he had yet to receive the results of the tests.
At the time The Phuket News called today, officers had not even checked any CCTV footage available in the hope of determining what had caused the accident.
“I have not checked about CCTV yet. I just requested my colleagues to contact officials for CCTV footage from inside and outside the tunnel today (Sept 23),” Lt Col Prasit said.
Amazingly, Col Prasit also noted that police had yet to identify any witnesses to the accident, which occurred during Friday evening rush hour in a tunnel that took more than three years and 11 months to build at a cost of B546 million specifically to alleviate traffic congestion in the area.
Such was the occasion for opening the underpass that Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha flew down from Bangkok to officiate its formal opening. (See story here.)
“There were no witnesses at the scene. Traffic Police were the only ones there when they arrived,” Lt Col Prasit said.
“All I have at this stage to determine the cause of the accident are the scrape marks from the motorbike on the road and damage to orange barrier poles that separate the lanes,” he added.
In short, at this stage police have no idea if another vehicle was involved, Lt Col Prasit admitted.
“I don’t know. All I have is the report from Traffic Police. They said said that she fell by herself, that there were no other vehicles involved in this accident, but our investigation is not finished yet,” he said.
Once recovered from her injuries, Ms Mailian will be charged for reckless driving, damaging government property (the orange separator poles) and with riding a motorbike through the underpass, Col Prasit confirmed.
“She will be charged, but the fine will depend on the outcome of the investigation,” he said.
Following the accident, Chalong Police Deputy Chief Lt Col Chana Suthimat urged motorbike riders to not ride through the underpass.
“This is not first accident in the Chalong Underpass, and luckily this accident did not result in death,” he told The Phuket News.
“I want people to exercise discipline when driving on the road and obey the traffic laws. There are warning signs telling riders that motorbikes must not enter any underpass. It is banned.
“Meanwhile, I urge car drivers to please drive slowly through the underpass because there is a bend in the tunnel,” he added.
“We have not yet had a death from a road accident in the underpass, but there have been a lot of accidents, so please be careful,” Lt Col Chana said.