Khaled “Nikki” Nour, a first-year student at the Prince of Songkla University Phuket campus, was killed by electric shock from the pole at about 6:30pm last Saturday (July 13) while playing basketball at the courts in the popular public park, which is administered by Phuket City Municipality.
His classmate, Cherdsak “Enzo” Vaiano was also electrocuted, but survived and rushed to hospital. (See story here.)
City officials were quick to respond to the danger, and announced on Tuesday that repairs had already been made to the pole to render it safe. (See story here.)
But today (July 17), however, Phuket City Chief Col Sompong was not even able to confirm whether his officers had already inspected the condition of the wiring fitted to the pole as part of their investigation.
Instead, he assured, “I don’t know who reached the incident scene first, but you don’t need to worry because forensic science officers are investigating the scene,
“Phuket Provincial Electricity Authority specialists and inspectors went there. Everything is under investigation,” he said.
Col Sompong confirmed that the families of both Mr Nour and Mr Cherdsak had filed complaints to police over the deadly incident, but declined to confirm any details filed in the complaints, notably especially whether the complaints sought charges of criminal negligence.
Capt Anuwat Raksayot, the police inspector responsible for the case, also declined to share any details of the complaints filed, and instead repeated the police mantra that charges had not yet been pressed because the investigation was ongoing.
Asked if the basketball courts public area was now safe, Capt Anuwat only offered, “It is Phuket City Municipality’s responsibility to make it safe.”
While visiting Mr Cherdsak at Siriroj International Hospital on Monday (July 15), Phuket Vice Governor Prakob Wongmaneerung told the press that the Phuket Provincial Government was taking urgent steps “to build confidence in safety”.
“The Phuket Provincial Government will send an official letter to every municipality to check the electrical systems in public parks and sport courts every six months,” he said.
“Even though staff take care of the electrical systems, this will increase the confidence among Phuket residents,” he said.
The Phuket News has confirmed that Mr Cherdsak has recovered from his life-threatening ordeal and has been discharged from hospital.
Mr Cherdsak has been interviewed by Capt Anuwat, but was unable to recall anything other than regaining consciousness at the court.
“I hope every public park and sports court will be a safe place for everyone for exercising,” Mr Cherdsak said.
“I am ready to go back to play basketball at Suan Luang if the safety there has improved,” he added.
Also at the hospital on Monday, Phuket City Mayor Somjai Suwansupana offered a public apology for the incident.
“I have urged the relevant authorities to find the cause of the incident and promised to focus more on the level of safety,” she said.
“Phuket City Municipality hired an external company to take care of the internal electrical systems. Some of municipal officials are taking care of utilities and lighting systems, which covers more than 6,000 light bulbs in the park,” Mayor Somjai explained, without clarifying precisely who was responsible for the lethal light pole.
“Additionally, we also have to be responsible for the medical expenses of the injured. Phuket City Municipality has set up a board to find the truth and the cause of the incident,” she said.