Sunday, November 10, 2013

Thailand: Expat, 72, Operating a Vehicle Under Prescribed Medication Kills Russian, 35, Injures 14 Others

According to Pattaya One News, a 72-year-old German expatriate killed a Russian woman, injured 14 passengers traveling on a "Baht bus" and damaged thirteen vehicles in a serious road accident in front of the Somprasong Plaza on Jomtien Beach Road just after 2000 hours on Friday night (November 8).

According to witnesses, the elderly German, who was reportedly on prescribed medication, was driving his Mitsubishi Pajero car "erratically" and at high speed. After hitting ten parked motorcycles, his vehicle hit two other cars and finally crashed into a bus carrying more than a dozen Thai and foreign passengers.

COMMENT: One unidentified Russian woman, aged around 35, was killed in the crash while seven Thais and seven other Russians were injured and had to receive emergency medical treatment. 

The German driver, identified as Juergen Heinze, 72, was reportedly "assaulted by others involved in the crash and was in a dazed state" when police arrived at the accident scene.

A breathalyzer test conducted on Heinze "came back negative for alcohol," yet police believe that prescription medication found in his damaged vehicle may have caused the elderly German to become impaired due to the medication he was taking.


Needless to say, the Heinze is in "big trouble."

Communication with the suspect was reportedly difficult and police said they were waiting for the effects of any medication to wear off before they interviewed the impaired driver.

Unfortunately, the Thai government has very rigorous penalties, including prison terms, for foreign drivers who kill or seriously injure people in Thailand, which can include financial restitution to the decedent's or injured person's family.

It is always wise to request a translation of your foreign motor vehicle license in English before leaving your home country. This is called an International Driving Permit (IDP) which can be purchased from your national automobile association. 

One of the best sources anywhere on road travel in foreign countries is http://www.asirt.org, which sells foreign road travel reports in 140 countries. For information, go to their website.

As a matter of interest, the following site offers guidance on the requirements for all motor vehicle licenses in Thailand:

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Travel-g293915-c1338/Thailand: Driving.License.Requirements