Weather Foils Recovery of Missing Thai Students in California

FRESNO, California — Weather conditions have delayed the recovery of a car believed to contain the bodies of two Thai students from a river canyon in central California, foreign ministry officials said Monday.

The bodies of Thiwadee Saengsuriyarit, 24, and Pakkapol Charatsongporn, 28, are believed to be in the rental car found 150 meters from the highway at the bottom of a ravine in the Kings River in Kings Canyon National Park, according to local authorities.

They went missing July 26, but the terrain and weather have stymied efforts to get to the car.

“The [search and rescue] team has been following weather conditions all day. The winds are so strong that the helicopter can’t fly down into the valley, and recovery will not be complete by Monday US time,” said Busadee Santipitaks of the Foreign Ministry.


The two University of South Florida students were on holiday and traveling in a rental car to visit the national park.

Read: 2 Thais Still Missing After Car Falls Off California Cliff

The California Highway Patrol and local authorities may next attempt recovery of the car on Wednesday, Busadee said.


Images posted by the Thai Consulate in Los Angeles show a smashed metal guardrail where Thiwadee and Pakkapol left the road.

Members of both victims’ families arrived Friday in California. They expressed disappointment with the delay. The families made merit for Thiwadee and Pakkapol at Wat Padhammachart in La Puente and the Hsi Lai Temple in Hacienda Heights. They then went together to retrace the route their children took in the last days of their life.

A California Highway Patrol officer shows a Thai consulate official the scene of the crash.

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The spot on Highway 180 where the car carrying the two University of South Florida students left the road and fell into a river canyon. Photo: Royal Thai Consulate-General Los Angeles
Thiwadee and Pakkapol’s families make merit for their children Sunday in California. Photo: Matichon