Businessman Offers 45 Mil Baht to Family of His DUI Victims

Police inspect the crash site on April 12, 2019.

BANGKOK — A court has appointed a representative to oversee the payment of 45 million baht by a businessman to the family of two people he killed in a drunken car crash in April.

In a ruling handed down on Wednesday, the central family court said a sister of Nuchanat Ngamsuwitchakul, who died alongside her husband Lt. Col. Jatuporn Ngamsuwitchakul, will serve as a guardian for Nuchanat’s daughters until they come of age.

An attorney for the businessman Somchai Varojpiputhn, whose case was a litmus test for police vows of tougher DUI prosecution, said the fund sets aside 30 million baht for the living expenses of the policeman’s orphaned daughters. The fund also covers a new car for the family which costed about 1.5 million baht.

“Mr. Somchai’s family has confirmed they will take care of all the damages,” lawyer Weerawuth Bamrungjai told reporters earlier this month. “To this day, Mr. Somchai is still upset at what happened, and he makes merit for the two victims.”

Weerawuth continued, “He also understands what [the victims’] parents would have felt, because he has two daughters in school himself.”

Somchai, the owner of Thai Carbon & Graphite Co. Ltd., was arrested on April 11 after he crashed his Mercedes Benz into Lt. Col. Jatuporn’s car in western Bangkok. The impact killed Jatuporn and mortally wounded his wife Nuchanat.

Their 12-year-old daughter was also severely injured in the accident. She and her 15-year-old sister are now orphaned.

Police said Somchai was heavily intoxicated when they apprehended him at the scene. The businessman later admitted to drinking with his friends at a golf club before attempting to drive home.

His arrest came just as police pledged to clamp down on DUI charges during the Songkran holidays. Under widespread public attention, the police took the unprecedented step of charging Somchai with murder rather than fatal DUI.

But the experiment was short lived. The court dismissed the murder charges against Somchai and sent the case back to the prosecutors. A new indictment has yet to be filed.

While Somchai’s deadly negligence was roundly condemned on social media, many netizens also praised him for facing justice instead of taking flight like Red Bull scion Vorayuth “Boss” Yoovidhya, who has yet to stand trial for killing a policeman with his Ferrari back in 2012.

“This deserves praises. A true man takes responsibility for what he did wrong. I want more people to be like him,” user Sakarin Aunpaserd wrote on Facebook.

Correction: A previous version of this article misidentified Vorayuth Yoovidhya’s car involved in the 2012 crash as a Porsche. In fact, it was a Ferrari.