Drunk Driving Businessman Who Killed Cop Gets Murder Charge

Police and rescue workers stand at the scene of car crash Thursday night that killed a policeman and his wife in Bangkok.
Police and rescue workers stand at the scene of car crash Thursday night that killed a policeman and his wife in Bangkok.

BANGKOK — A businessman was charged with murder and drink driving on Friday for a car crash in western Bangkok that killed a police officer and his wife.

Police said Somchai Varojpiputhn, a 57-year-old owner of mechanical parts manufacturer, was arrested last night after his silver Mercedes-Benz collided with the officer’s car. The crash occurred just before midnight when the officer was on the road with his family in Bangkok’s Thawi Watthana district.

Lt. Col. Jatuporn Ngamsuwitchakul of the Crime Suppression Division, who was driving, died at the scene. His wife, Nuchanat Ngamsuwitchakul, died later at a hospital. Their 16-year-old daughter was critically injured and is being treated in an intensive care unit.

Investigators said Somchai was unhurt and appeared heavily intoxicated when they arrived at the scene. His blood alcohol level was later found to be in excess of the legal limit.

Somchai has been charged with multiple serious counts including murder, attempted murder, and fatal drunk driving. Police said he confessed to drinking four to five bottles of beer with friends at a nearby golf course before heading out at 11pm. He told police he then blacked out and woke up at the crash scene.

Police spokesman Wirachai Songmetta said the murder charge was included because Somchai knew he was too drunk to drive.

“He drove for just 400 meters before causing the crash by gliding into the wrong lane. The passing car was unable to divert because the road has only two lanes,” he said. “He must have realized the possible consequences as soon as he drove his car onto the road.”

Gen. Wirachai added that damage from the crash suggests Somchai was also speeding.

If convicted of murder, Somchai faces a prison term of up to 20 years or the death penalty. Police said he pleaded guilty to drink driving but maintained his innocence of murder and attempted murder.

Somchai has been identified as the owner of Thai Carbon & Graphite Co., Ltd., which claims on its website to be “the largest manufacturer of industrial brushes and mechanical carbon in Southeast Asia.”