My Thai Accident
After reading the Phuket submission regarding a traffic accident and dealing with the police I thought I would relate my experience to readers.
After a delayed exit from Burma and minus a memory card and tape recorder I headed towards Chiang Rai on my motorbike and just when the traffic was starting to get heavy a vehicle that was beside me suddenly swerved and pushed my bike into the scooters beside me and one went down with three school girls on it not wearing helmets.
I was on a larger bike and managed to stay upright but the girls were sprawled over the highway bleeding with traffic just driving around them and the vehicle that hit me long gone. I pulled up about fifty meters on and a Thai guy came up and said go before the police get here, you in big trouble.
I went back and helped the girls off the road with traffic just driving around us with no-one stopping and there was blood everywhere. All three had lost skin but two serious with skin missing from face, arms and legs. Shortly afterwards the Chinese body snatchers came to take them to hospital and they weren’t too keen to go but were left with little choice and the least injured girl stayed with me until the police arrived.
I waited with a policeman and the girl for more police that were called and there was a phone call from the hospital saying that I had to come and pay for the ambulance before they could be treated but the cop took the phone and dealt with it and I then followed the police and the girl on my bike to the police station.
At the station most activity was taking place outside the station and I was told to wait and used this time to ring a Thai girl I met up north who spoke perfect English along with other languages to see if she was back in Chiang Rai yet. Luckily she was and eventually turned up with her friend.
The situation explained to me was because we couldn’t find or identify the vehicle that hit me I was now responsible for the accident as I hit the girls' bike and could I stay around until the paperwork was finalised which would be when the girls were out of hospital so they could come to the station to make a statement – which could be weeks.
Now at home we would go to the hospital to take a statement but that's not the case here, especially with a farang involved so the two of us gave our statements and agreed to meet back with all the families involved in two days for further discussions. I was now under pressure from some people to fly home because I was not detained. I had my passport and I could just go but if I was going to do that I would not have stopped in the first place. No, this was my responsibility now and morally I had to follow it through.
In the meantime I went to the hospital to visit them and found the conditions there not very suitable so I had them moved to a private hospital which was substantially better and then had to round up all the paperwork for my bike for insurance reasons and provide both the police and hospital. One girl was in a bad way, not being able to move because the abrasions would bleed if she did and it would take three weeks before she could leave hospital.
I met back at the station as agreed but the officer apparently wasn’t aware of our intended meeting and wasn’t the. One parent was and he was under the weather and asking for all sorts of compensation and I could see it would not benefit the girl if I gave him cash so I said I would come back when the senior officer we were dealing with was present.
At this stage I thought I may be there a while so I made contact with a Thai embassy employee I had met from a foreign consulate and she contacted the officer involved the next day and lo and behold he offered to come in on his day off and organised the families to attend.
So I arrived at the station with my interpreter friend to find a dozen locals and the officer in his golf clothes waiting for me and thought I was in for a lynching. I met the families who, except for the weather man, were most humble, respectful and were apologising for the incident. After many discussions and running backwards and forwards to a private photocopying stand nearby we were nearing a resolution.
With the officer present we agreed on a price to fix their bike which was reasonable and he supervised the transaction with the weather man who even tried to short change me and eventually agreed that the statement from the least injured girl would be enough and I didn’t have to wait three weeks so more photocopies in triplicate, a small police fine and with a shake of the hand from the officer that part was over.
Back to the hospital with food and gifts and it was a sad sight and I felt responsible for what I saw, a beautiful girl in pain, suffering and missing school because a blundering farang like me on his big bike splattered her all over the highway but she did not see it that way and asked me if I was alright and not hurt and thanked me for coming to see her.
I started to see how little gestures like bringing food and small gifts are important in Thai culture, where we might dismiss this at home it means a lot in Thailand. Now due to impact this incident has had on the girls, their schooling and their families it was time to compensate them for the discomfort caused even though I didn’t cause the accident.
With help I decided to compensate the girl who was going to be in hospital for three weeks the most and gave the cash to her directly in an envelope as I had concerns the family would ever see it if I gave it to the wealthier man which probably happened anyway and gave the parents of the other two girls an envelope each, which they tried to politely refuse but I insisted and they were most grateful. <Oh, come on, tell us how much you gave! – Stick>
The parents then asked for my email address so the girls could contact me with their progress and asked if I could correct their grammar, which I happily agreed to. I then settled with the hospital in triplicate and confirmed my flight home in a few days after I had changed my departure date three times.
Once I was home I received emails on their progress and corrected their grammar which is probably better than mine and they thanked me for looking after them. I feel now I can return to Thailand with no regrets about the way I responded to the consequences of the accident which I have recently found out may have been a junta warning rather than an accident.
I am kind of surprised at this. At the start you say it was not your fault – that you were hit by another vehicle which pushed you into the bike with the school girls on it. You then later suggest it may have been your fault. If you were not at fault, did you pay because you wanted to, or because you were scared, intimidated or perhaps you felt you had to, or were even forced to do so? Or did you pay because you felt you wanted to help? This is all very unclear, to me at least.
It doesn't make it right, but the schoolgirls almost certainly didn't have a drivers licence and weren't wearing helmets – as EVERY motorcycle rider should.
I guess what I am saying is that this is all one big chapter of errors, and I just do not see why the farang should pay unless he truly, genuinely was at fault. Besides, if you had had insurance, it would have covered everything.