PHUKET — Police on Monday charged an upperclasswoman in connection with the death of a student who was forced to run during cheerleading practice until she collapsed.
The second-year female university student was charged with fatal recklessness for ordering Pornpipat Iad-dum, 19, to run eight laps around Phuket Rajabhat University on Wednesday. Pornpipat collapsed on the sixth lap and died at Thursday morning Vajira Phuket Hospital.
“We can’t give the perpetrator’s full name. It’s for her protection and out of respect for the dead,” Col. Teerawat Liamsuwan of Phuket city police said by phone Monday.
Teerawat did confirm that it was a second-year student named Rawinnipha, nicknamed Prae, which netizens had identified as the student in charge of punishments during cheerleading practice by identifying her Tiktok account.
Teerawat said there was not enough evidence to charge three other upperclassmen present at the sports practice.
Police spokesman Kissana Phattanacharoen said Monday that Rawinnipha, who reportedly confessed to the charges, had ordered Pornpipat to run around the parking lot in front of the industrial technology faculty. Rawinnipha is out without bail since she was not deemed a flight risk.
According to an autopsy report, Pornpipat died from heart failure, and a lack of oxygen to the brain for 16 minutes. She also had hemorrhaging lungs and a nosebleed.
When asked if the university would also face legal action, Kissana said that they must investigate whether the university was in charge of the sports practice, and to which extent.
Pornpipat’s family are in mourning and refused to accept the 100,000 baht in apology money from university rector Hirun Prasankan and vice president Noppadol Janrawang, who is in charge of student activities.
The family is also looking to press additional civil charges against the upperclassmen, and demanding a release of the university’s CCTV footage to see if bullying was involved in Pornpipat’s death.
Pornpipat, a first-year Thai language major, was on the cheerleading team at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. Practice would run every day from 5pm to 8pm, but her family said she often got home after 9pm since upperclassmen would punish first-year students for making mistakes during practice.
Pornpipat was not allowed to drink water and was punished with running the eight laps since she had made eight mistakes during practice. In Thai universities, cheerleading practice often comes with harsh physical punishments and hazing.
Keerati Panmanee, an activist with the anti-hazing group Anti Sotus, said that the university has so far not made any effort to ban Sotus activities there even after a student’s death. The creed of Sotus stands for Seniority, Order, Tradition, Unity and Spirit.