‘Praewa’ Ordered to Pay 30 Million Baht to Van Crash Victims

Families of those killed in the Dec. 27, 2010 car crash at the Civil Court today.  

BANGKOK — A woman who killed nine people in a 2010 car crash was ordered by a civil court today to pay 30 million baht in compensation to her victims and their families.

Though lower than the 100 million baht sought by the victims’ families, the civil judgment against Orachorn “Praewa” Thephasadin Na Ayudhya was the most significant penalty to date since she was found criminally liable for their deaths.

A father of one of the deceased said he was dissatisfied by the ruling and may appeal the verdict.

“The court only ordered her to pay a third of what we requested. In the opinion of the majority of the victims, the amount is too little,” said police Col. Saran Nilawan, whose 20-year-old daughter was killed in the December 2010 crash. “We respect the court verdict, but our lawyers will meet on Dec. 22 to discuss whether we will appeal the verdict, and if we do, which points we will contest in the appeal.”

Orachorn was 17 and driving illegally when she crashed her car into a public van operating the Thammasat University-Victory Monument route on Dec. 27, 2010. The impact sent the van plummeting from the raised road, killing nine people, including four students, four academics, and the van’s driver.

In today’s verdict, the Civil Court ordered Orachorn to pay a total of 30 million baht in compensation to 28 people, including those injured in the crash and families of the deceased. Compensations range from 4,000 to 1.8 million baht per person, with an interest rate of 7.5 per year.

Orachorn was not in court today to hear the judgment. Her lawyer declined to answer questions.

Read: Supreme Court Rejects Appeal from Underage Motorist Who Killed 9

After the crash, Orachorn was charged with reckless driving leading to deaths and injuries of others and driving without a license. Police said Orachorn was driving her mother’s car when the accident took place. She was also younger than the legal driving age of 18.

Numerous social media users voiced skepticism since the early days of the investigation that the families would receive justice, because of Orachorn’s influential family. Her brother is a famous actor and model, and her uncle and grandfather were high-ranking military commanders. Many Thai media agencies censored Orachorn’s name in their coverage long after she turned 18, lest her family file libel lawsuits.

In August 2012, the court found Orachorn guilty of reckless driving leading to deaths of others, and handed her a three year suspended prison sentence and mandatory community service. She was also barred from driving until she is 25. An appeals court upheld the ruling in April 2014 and increased her suspended sentence to four years.

Suspended sentences are frequently handed down to prominent figures in criminal matters, enabling them to avoid jail time.

Orachorn later appealed the verdict to the Supreme Court, arguing that she had no intention to drive recklessly, but the court dismissed her appeal this year, ending the criminal case and paving way for the victims’ families to sue her for compensation in the Civil Court.

But Saran, the police officer who lost his daughter in the 2010 crash, believes the compensation is unlikely to be paid any time soon, because he heard Orachorn’s lawyer is also preparing to contest the verdict.

“I believe the defendant will file an appeal in order to delay paying the compensation,” Saran told reporters today at the court. “And it’s been five years since the incident, but the defendant’s family has never met with us at all.”

Orachorn and her family could not be immediately reached for comment.