Monday, April 22, 2013

Monday, April 22, 2013
12

CORONERS IN UK TOLD FOREIGN OFFICE OFFICIALS THEY MUST GIVE STRONGER WARNINGS TO TOURISTS-




A British mother who lost her 19-year-old son in one of Thailand’s numerous coach crashes is flying out to ensure justice for her child who was due to study economic at Manchester University.

Rachel Cooper, from Brighton, East Sussex, will attend the criminal court in Ranong, to see if it takes seriously the prosecution of the driver who fled the scene

The driver responsible was found an appears in court in Ranong later this month.

Rachel, mother of Felix Cooper Robinson, had also hoped to sue the bus company, as the bus in question was running on bald tyres,  but was advised against it.

She is one of a group of mothers in Britain who have all lost children in fatal bus and coach crashes in Thailand.

Felix was mad on music and travel and when he was younger a proficient skateboarder as is shown by videos up on Youtube.

A fund set up in his memory helps to finance music projects for hill tribe children in northern Thailand.

Rachel - Felix in picture in backbround - Channel 4 UK

She is joined in her campaign by the mothers of Bruno Melling-Firth, Max Boomgaarden-Cook and Conrad Quashie, all 19, who were killed heading for Chiang Mai in a bus crash in Kamphaeng Phet province.

The young men were all pupils at the Charter School in Dulwich. The driver , who attempted a U-turn on a six lane highway and was broadsided by another bus was subsequently prosecuted and jailed for two years for negligence.
Driver in denial
The driver said: "Of course I am sorry about what happened, but I really did not do anything. I just stopped in the middle of the road to turn. We were hit."

The seats on the bus were not firmly fixed, but even if they were that might have not saved the young men's lives in such a collision.
From the Daily Telegraph
Dr. Andrew Harris the coroner in Southwark, South London urged the British Foreign Office to issue more warnings about the dangers of Thai bus travel after it was disclosed that the bus seats were not fixed down and there were no seat belts.

He said:
 "This has been a harrowing and tragic inquest. It's never easy to hear an inquest into the deaths of young people. 
"It does seem to me to be a reasonable and sensible solution to make that I could ask the Foreign and Commonwealth Office that if they have any evidence of unregulated bus travel that they should give the same warning for bus travel as they do for motorcycles."
In the case of Felix Cooper Robinson there were also complaints about the condition of the bus. Not only were the seats not firmly fixed but the tyres were also running.

One of the bus tyres
Sussex Police forensic investigator PC Colin O’Neill gave evidence to the Coroner’s Court  in Brighton saying that the tread on the rear tyres was so poor it could not be measured.

Wet conditions and “excessive speed” were also blamed for the crash.

Coroner Mrs Hamilton-Deeley recorded a narrative verdict saying: “If the crash had happened in England or Wales criminal proceedings would probably have been launched against the bus driver and owner.”

Group of mothers who lost their sons in Thai bus crashes - Channel 4 UK

Indeed the bus driver is now being prosecuted but as for the company Ms Cooper said:

 “The bus company dissolved and changed name and the lawyers instructed by the insurance company told us to settle with the bus company's insurers rather than take case because of the risks and length of time (and we had to make a decision in v short space of time because of 1 yr limitation period) but now we realise we should have sued them.” **


Thai bus company changed its name



Rachel will be meeting with British Embassy officials and Thai safety officials.

On the right is the current British Embassy travel advice on road deaths in Thailand updated as a result of Coroners'requests, but the parents still feel it is not strong enough.

Both bus crashes were highlighted in a piece by John Sparks on Channel 4 in the United Kingdom.
'
The programme focused on unlicensed buses and on bus repair yards where crashed buses were put back together haphazardly.

'Where were the plans for these repairs?"

'In our heads!' seemed to be the reply.


"We have looked at the guidebooks and we have looked at the Foreign Office website and there are just no warnings," Rachel, a solicitor, told reporter John Sparks.

"Sometimes they say buses 'may drive fast' but there are no real warnings about the level of danger and the numbers of people who are killed," she added.

When John Sparks spoke to a Thai government official he replied:'

"We have international standards. We have the engineers to check the buses and we have the plans."

:- all this against an earlier backdrop of Thai 'engineers' doing botched repair jobs on buses.

The repair jobs can be impressive but beneath the surface things can, it appears, be rotten to the core.
This bus will look pristine - but will it be safe?
** The company involved in the Felix Cooper Robinson case was the Fah Andaman Bus Co. It changed its name to First Management Service Mind Co Ltd. Directors are Mr Pramnan Sakboonyarat and Ms Seng Sakboonyaratong.

Now watch the Channel 4 video.


12 comments:

  1. Andrew,

    I've been trying to highlight this e.g. the dangers of travelling on Thai roads, recently in a blog I wrote for ajarn.com http://www.ajarn.com/blogs/tom-tuohy/dying-to-get-around/

    The authorities are talking about creating a Thai Roads handbook but even if they do, I doubt it'll be enough to raise awareness of this very serious problem.

    best

    Tom Tuohy

    ReplyDelete
  2. Nakhonthai Air VIP buses always give you a good steady service to your destination; they arrive at their destination at the correct time, no speeding, foolish overtaking or blowing of horns. Worth the few extra Bahts. Minibus? No thanks, I don't want to die.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not sure if this is advertising or not. Can anyone out there verify this?

      Delete
    2. I don't think it's an ad - the name of the company is incorrect.
      It's 'Nakornchai Air' (also 'Nakhonchai Air') and I was also pleased with theyr service and comfort.

      Delete
    3. yes, nakhonthai are pretty good compared to the rest of the rabble.
      Phil williams

      Delete
    4. As an expat who has been living and working in Thailand with Driver Training since 2000 I can assure you that the original post is NOT advertising!
      The company NakornchaiAir does not need advertising, since every Thai national knows it is a very safety minded company. Unfortunately they only have a website in Thai and if you are not proficient in Thai language it is very difficult to call them and book by phone. If you do book by phone you can pay the tickets at any 7-11 shop and get your receipt and tickets/boarding cards with allocated seat numbers. To be sure of getting a seat you must book at least 2 weeks ahead of departure and even earlier for big holidays.
      A bus in Thailand may look new, but that is just the bodywork, that by the way in most cases does not meet the ECE/TRANS/WP Regulation No. 66. Furthermore I have examined "brand new” buses where the chassis have been even from the 1970's. Some axles and other components where I managed to secure a manufacturing number, had officially been scrapped in Europe, and how they ended up on a "new" Thai bus is a complete mystery to me. My rule of thumb is that the fancier the bus looks the more likely it is to crumble in a crash.
      To stay safe don’t buy cheap bus tickets in Thailand, add some money and increase your chances of actually arriving at your destination.

      Delete
    5. As an expat who has been living and working in Thailand with Driver Training since 2000 I can assure you that the original post is NOT advertising!
      The company NakornchaiAir does not need advertising, since every Thai national knows it is a very safety minded company. Unfortunately they only have a website in Thai and if you are not proficient in Thai language it is very difficult to call them and book by phone. If you do book by phone you can pay the tickets at any 7-11 shop and get your receipt and tickets/boarding cards with allocated seat numbers. To be sure of getting a seat you must book at least 2 weeks ahead of departure and even earlier for big holidays.
      A bus in Thailand may look new, but that is just the bodywork, that by the way in most cases does not meet the ECE/TRANS/WP Regulation No. 66. Furthermore I have examined "brand new” buses where the chassis have been even from the 1970's. Some axles and other components where I managed to secure a manufacturing number, had officially been scrapped in Europe, and how they ended up on a "new" Thai bus is a complete mystery to me. My rule of thumb is that the fancier the bus looks the more likely it is to crumble in a crash.
      To stay safe don’t buy cheap bus tickets in Thailand, add some money and increase your chances of actually arriving at your destination.

      Delete
  3. Tragic for those families and wish them luck with their campaign.
    Actually; it would be helpful if there were stronger warnings on all kinds of dangers and scams that are allowed to thrive in this country.

    ReplyDelete
  4. If you can, always take the train or even fly. Unfortunately, the rail network in Thailand is severely limited and there are not many options for many other than the bus.
    In Bangkok, many of the buses drive dangerously, and as with most vehicles, often with little or no regard for passengers or pedestrians, however they are a good way of getting around the city and provide a great alternative to taxis.
    I've lost count of the amount of times I have been involved in 'near-misses' whilst a passenger in mini-vans, taxis and buses; just a very big negative about visiting and living in Thailand.
    As to the Thai official's comment about having 'International standards', who is he kidding?

    ReplyDelete
  5. Constructive comments by embassies and on the Thai forums would help.

    ReplyDelete
  6. AS long as Thailnd has the sex industry, and the ex pats and tourists who flock here for them, I see little impetus for govt officials to change the policy of life is cheap and money matters more. Thailand is not safe, so don't come here is the clear and often ignored message.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Sex industries are worldwide. It is the strength of internal mafias that make constructive change difficult. AD is unafraid to point out both sides of Thailand (it is not all bad) but no forum in Thailand can make the same claim. Thaivisa is merely the worst of a nasty bunch of biased forums that only publish according to their own view of the world.

    ReplyDelete