BANGKOK — Childless after her daughter was killed in a car crash at the hands of a wealthy teen, Suchada Palakul was also soon widowed, with her husband dying from grief.
On Dec. 27, 2010, Suchada’s husband, Nirat Sudthanakit, waited to pick up his daughter Trong Sudthanakit at BTS Mo Chit, but she never arrived. Trong was riding in a Thammasat University van when Orachorn “Praewa” Thephasadin Na Ayudhya — now going by Rawinpirom Arunwong — crashed into it, killing nine including Trong.
“When he knew she died, he lost it. He couldn’t control his mind. He was so sad, always crying, and became depressed. He was still, quiet, and stopped eating,” Suchada said on the Tham Trong Trong show.
Nirat stopped working and only read Buddhist texts, distancing himself from his wife. Then a year and three months after Trong’s death, Suchada found Nirat dead in his sleep.
“He called my name twice, and then died. He had no chronic illnesses. I believe he died from grief. She was our only daughter,” Suchada said.
Suchada says she is still crying over the death of both her daughter and husband.
“I have friends and my daughter’s friends to advise me on what to do. But my life right now has almost nothing left,” Suchada said.
Interviews with the families of Praewa’s crash victims are coming in a wave of renewed media interest in the case, after victims revealed they received absolutely no compensation despite the orders of the civil court when the case against Praewa concluded on May 8. Victims also said they have never received a sincere apology from Praewa.
In April 2017, amid a legal battle that had lasted years, Praewa’s legal representatives managed to cut the total restitution for the nine families from 30 million baht to 19.8 million baht.
Praewa’s family – the Thephasadin Na Ayudhya family – have announced they will give a press conference at 4pm today at Ploen restaurant on Vibhavadi Rangsit Road.
This afternoon, Praewa’s mother, Laddawan Thephasadin Na Ayudhya, gave a live phone interview on Channel 3 apologizing for the fatal accident and saying that the family would repay the victims after they sell land plots worth 105 million baht.
“My daughter is both alive and dead at the same time. We all need medication to sleep, and we’re never happy. We’re always crying and suffering,” Laddawan said. “She may have depression. I’m scared she may kill herself any day.”
Laddawan said that Praewa married former National Legislative Assembly member Sorawee Ratpitakteerada in 2014, but has since divorced. Instead of jail time, Praewa served 138 hours of community service, completed six years after the accident. At the time of the accident, Praewa was 16 and an unlicensed driver.
Laddawan suggested that the Ministry of Justice intervene to pay the families first, and allow the Thephasadin clan to repay the Ministry once it is able to sell their land.
“No matter what your clan representative says today, what I want to hear the most is that you will follow what the court ordered,” Warunyoo Ketchoo, a survivor of the crash and an outspoken Twitter user, wrote Thursday. “We have suffered enough. Over the past nine years, you showed us that you never wanted a solution.”
Japanese widow Tomoko Nando also spoke about the loss of her husband, Pinyo Jinantuya.
“Losing him was like losing a leg. I’m alone. I had him to talk, discuss, and eat with,” Nando said, who speaks fluent Thai. “Nowadays, I’m alone and don’t want to talk to anyone. No one understands me like he did.”
Sitapat Pongratthawon, the widow of Ukkrit Ratanachoamsri who left behind a then-3-year-old boy, said that Praewa’s lawyers spoke callously to her about seeking compensation.
“They said, ‘If you want to settle, contact me. Even if you want to sue us to the fullest extent of the law, I don’t know if you’re going to get anything, or how far the case will go. We don’t have to give you what you want from us,’” Sitapat recalled.
Meanwhile, the mother of one of the nine victims lives in poverty.
Thawin Chaotiang, the adoptive mother of doctor Sastra Chaotiang, said that she has to sell flower garlands at the City Municipality Market in Ratchaburi City to make ends meet now that there’s no hope of getting compensation for her dead son.
She once had high hopes for a more comfortable life after her son Sastra, a scientist at the National Science and Technology Development Agency, came back to Thailand with a doctorate degree from the UK.
“If he was alive, I wouldn’t have to sell garlands. He always told me that he would take care of me,” Thawin, 71, said.
Thawin said the last time she saw Praewa was in 2010 at her son’s funeral.
“It’s been such a long time. That word, sympathy – they probably have none,” Thawin said. “I’m old now. I’m fine with anything, and I’m not even bargaining or asking for much.”
Krid Rodaree, the father of another victim, Kiattimant Rodaree, took to Facebook on Jan. 2, 2011 to post a note titled “From the father of Kiattimant, who died.” Attached are Kiattimant’s Chulalongkorn University engineering graduation photos, childhood photos, and news about the crash that killed him at the age of 23.
Netizens, who have been raking the internet for information on Praewa and the crash, have made Krid’s letter go viral years later.
“He was a good son who never made his parents sad, a good older brother to his siblings, and beloved by everyone he knew. It’s difficult to come to terms with this, and to find the words to express what we are feeling,” Krid wrote.
He also condemned Praewa’s lack of apology to the victims’ families.
“The litigant’s reactions and expressions have been inappropriate to the situation. The victims should have received basic healing words such as ‘I’m sorry’ or ‘Sorry for being involved in the situation’ which would have lessened our grief,” Krid wrote.
Prior to his death, Kiattimant had planned to continue his studies in nanoengineering.