BANGKOK — The extended, illustrious family of a woman convicted of killing nine people in a car crash in 2010 said Thursday they are sorry for what happened and pledged to assist the families of the victims.
In a statement released to the media Thursday afternoon, representatives of the powerful Thephasadin Na Ayudhya clan – which counts army generals and lawmakers among its ranks – said they will set up a fund to pay for the legal fees incurred by victims’ families in their pursuit of compensation. The legal fees have not been paid as mandated by the court in May.
Praewa Thephasadin Na Ayudhya, who is now known as Rawinpirom Arunwong, was 16 when she crashed her car into the back of a university van in Bangkok, killing nine people onboard and wounding several others. She had no driver’s license at the time.
The victims’ families told the media in recent days that they have not received any compensation from Praewa despite a verdict in May that ordered her to pay out a total of 25 million baht to the families.
The news renewed outrage on social media, where many accused the Thephasadin Na Ayudhya clan of using its influence to help one of its scions avoid legal repercussions.
But in a two-page statement handed out to reporters prior to a news conference today, Thephasadin Na Ayudhya representatives asked the public not to conflate Praewa’s actions with the rest of the clan, which numbers 200-plus families.
“Many used aggressive, rude language in talking about our deceased ancestors,” the statement said. “[We] would like to ask them to stop referring to our clan and forefathers, since it is illegal and we do not want to cause divisions in society.”
Apart from setting up a fund to pay the legal fees of the victims’ families, the clan also urged Praewa to respect the court verdict and take responsibility by compensating the victims.
The statement went on to ask the public to have sympathy for Praewa and give her a second chance.
“She was a minor at the time. She did not mean for any accident to happen,” the statement said. “She has also shown responsibility by not making any attempt to flee and accepting all punishments.”
Praewa, now 25, has changed her name twice. In 2014 she married former interim parliament member Sorawee Ratpitakteerada, but her mother Laddawan Thephasadin Na Ayudhya told Channel 3 in a live interview today that they are now divorced.
Although reports on social media said Praewa worked at the Ministry of Defense, army officials said today the rumors are false because she did not pass the examination.
Laddawan also said in the interview her family is currently trying to find buyers for their 105-million baht land plots in order to pay the compensation ordered by the court.
Praewa herself has never spoken publicly about her role in the fatal accident.
Formed by descendants of past monarchs and court noblemen with Chinese backgrounds, the Thephasadin Na Ayudhya clan bears one of the elite rajasakuls – or royally bestowed surnames – whose members include army generals, junta-appointed lawmakers and actors.
Additional reporting Asaree Thaitrakulpanich