BANGKOK — A vendor has been killed after the manager of a famous Bangkok shopping mall crashed his Mercedes Benz into a garbage truck this morning while driving under the influence.
The incident occurred at Hua Met Alley on Jakkawat Road in Bangkok's Samphantawong district.
At the scene of the accident, police found a damaged Mercedes Benz that had been slammed into the back of a six-wheeler garbage truck operated by the district authorities.
Near the truck police found the body of Somchai Khamphiophan, 57, a vendor who sold phone cases at Sampeng Market.
Taweep Sankham, 27, a garbage collecting worker, was also severely injured by the crash. He has been sent to hospital.
The driver of the Mercedes Benz was later arrested by the police and identified as Chaidole Krairiksh, 61, a manager of the MBK shopping mall located in Bangkok's financial district.
Mr. Chaidole was initially unable to give testimony to the police because he was heavily intoxicated, said police. A breathalyzer test revealed that Mr. Chaidole's blood alcohol level exceeded the legal limit at the time of the accident.
Samrit Tosantia, the 59-year-old driver of the garbage truck, told police that he and his team were gathering trash in the area while Mr. Somchai was unloading goods from his vehicle nearby, when he suddenly heard a loud crash from behind the truck.
The impact of the crash caused the truck to lurch forward one metre, Mr. Samrit said.
Ms. Yaowalak Saengsucha, the 44-year-old niece of Mr. Somchai, said tearfully that she and Mr. Somchai were unloading the goods from their vehicles to be sold in Sampeng Market prior to the accident. She said she later heard a loud crash and was shocked to discover that her uncle was killed in the accident.
According to Ms. Yaowalak, Mr. Somchai had been working as a vendor for 20 years, and he had been financially supporting his brother, who is disabled.
"I still can't believe what happened," Ms. Yaowalak told reporters, "But I try to be positive and tell myself that my uncle is now in peace. He has been exhausted [by his work] for such a long time."
Nevertheless, she said she is deeply saddened to see that Mr. Chaidole is more concerned by the state of his car than her uncle's death. "I heard him ask how his car is, whether the police are taking care of it, and whether the police have already towed the car to the police station."
A female relative of Mr. Chaidole later arrived at the police station and expressed her willingness to pay any compensation to Ms. Yaowalak. She also asked the reporters not to photograph Mr. Chaidole, explaining that she does not want the incident to make it to the news as she is a high-ranking military officer.
Incensed by the remarks, Ms. Yaowalak confronted the woman and told her the media has every right to report the news in order to educate society about the dangers of drunk driving.
After a brief verbal exchange between the two women, Mr. Chaidole finally admitted that he had been drinking at a party prior to the accident. The MBK manager added that he fell unconscious behind the wheel and only regained consciousness after he had crashed the car.
The police have charged him with reckless driving leading to death.
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