Do you still remember Francisco Villa, the cyclist from Chile who was knocked down by a pick-up in Korat, Thailand? Thank God I - his wife from Singapore - survived despite a broken leg and our baby - Lukas - about 15 months at the time of accident, survived too. A true miracle!
The pick-up driver, Mr Tiwarat Ratchaipidet (64 years old), got a small fine (7500 Bht) and a 1-year jail term that was SUSPENDED. So, even though he killed my husband through reckless driving - he was overtaking illegally into the left shoulder where we were cycling, he is now free and continues to live life as usual; and continues driving.
The reckless driver escaped just punishment by tricking me into signing an unfavourable agreement while I was still recovering in Bua Yai Hospital. My appeal through Pantip for lawyers against the unfair judgement had some response but nothing serious or sustained. I travelled to Bua Yai to see the Public Prosecutor to seek a re-trial against the unfair judgement but I was met with cold indifference. I wrote about my meeting with the Public Prosecutor and it was published as a cover story in The Bangkok Post on 17 May 2015. But nothing happened too. Francisco, did you die for nothing?
The families of the 3 cyclists who died in Chiang Mai on 3 May 2015 has each received compensation of 1.2 million from Mittare Insurance. What about the families of the Malaysian victims who died or were injured in the Doi Saket bus crash on 20 Dec 2015? According to the Chang Mai Governor, Pavin Chamniprasart, ‘state insurance would pay up to 1.6 million baht for each fatality and 850,000 for those injured.’ Francisco’s accident happened on 21 Feb 2015 and until now I have received nothing from Krungthai Panich Insurance (KPI), the perpetrator’s car insurance company.
It is a tragedy you have not been paid anything, almost 11 months since the accident. I have met many Thai cyclists and I know they are VERY passionate about their sport and the safety of it's participants.
I sincerely hope that by reaching out, someone well connected will read your story and pull some strings.
I know that both you and Lukas (it IS correct spelling) are experiencing severe financial hardship and I sincerely hope that you will receive fair compensation soon.
Unfortunately, it seems that this one line, "The reckless driver escaped just punishment by tricking me into signing an unfavourable agreement while I was still recovering in Bua Yai Hospital." sums up the situation. NEVER sign anything that will become legally binding, especially at a vulnerable moment. Legal recourse (in any country-not just Thailand) at this point seems like an expensive endeavor without much chance of winning.
Not knowing all of the details of your case, I would still advise that the best course of action would be to hire an international law firm to actively pursue compensation from Krungthai Panich Insurance (KPI), the perpetrator’s car insurance company.
It would be wonderful to see a lawyer step forward and handle this case pro bono in honor of Fransisco. If not pro bono then at least for a small percentage of what money is recovered. I was at the funeral in Khon Kaen and saw the driver who killed Fransisco chatting happily away with the police as though nothing had happened. I'm sure he has no remorse whatsoever and will drive the same way in the future. Maybe Bicycle Thailand will open a bank account and seek donations to help this woman find a lawyer. I for one would be happy to donate.
There was a very positive response to this post on our Bicycle Thailand FaceBook page by Jomkwan Janpha
I will post what Khun Jomkwan said:
Hi Jennel, i work for Office of Insurance Commission of Thailand, the regulator of the insurance companies here. However, i do not work in the policyholder protection department. I did call them and ask what we can do to help you. The policyholder protection dept recommended that you should file the case to our office. BuaYai is in Nakornrachasrima provice, we have sub- office there
or you can file the compliant on the website " http://www1.oic.or.t...OIC_request.php" however the complaint form is in Thai language. Another option is sending the case to email: email@example.com. Currently, it's holiday time. I will check with other department what other thing we can do for you. Normally, if the KPI insurance policy is only the compulsory one, you should get 200,000 Baht for this case. But if it is comprehensive you should get more depended on the sum insured.
I’m touched by your concern and kindness in responding to my appeal. Thanks to this forum, I managed to contact Khun Jomkwan who went the extra, extra mile to help me negotiate with KPI for a higher compensation. We came to an agreed amount through Jom’s intervention and dedicated assistance. I’m eternally grateful to Jom’s generosity with her time and efforts even though we only knew each other online. I told her she’s an Angel sent by Francisco and we’ve become friends now.
It boils my blood to learn that this from fdimike:
I was at the funeral in Khon Kaen and saw the driver who killed Fransisco chatting happily away with the police as though nothing had happened. I'm sure he has no remorse whatsoever and will drive the same way in the future.
Before, there was a Thai cyclist, Peerapong, who helped me raise funds before I left Bangkok. He wrote:
I would like to do 2 things for your family, first thing, i am still thinking what to do? second thing, I know already I would like to do a music video for your family,
Can you send me a picture of trip biking that I can have on this "see you again music video?
we will make him the drive sorry for all the rest of his life, in every week
I just saw the video. Thanks so much for your effort. You're hoping this video will help people to remember Francisco and make the driver regret? I don't intend to take revenge against the driver, it's more of the legal system that allowed such injustice to happen - why the court or police didn't inform me of the crucial first court hearing??? Probably someone from the police or court is helping Tiwarat, maybe he paid a bribe??? I'm keen to help you with the video, just wondering what's our objective?
If you approve, for "we will make him the drive sorry for all the rest of his life, in every week", I want to send your "picture around the world" once a week for a year.
For video, I have already made as you have already seen. The objective is to keep spirit of biking around-the-world a live. And in a memory of a biker who making it real. Yesterday, it is my first time to see your picture around-the-world. And it is more than wonderful.
for picture once every week to send to that driver from my place if you approve, I can print from my color printer at once, and gradually send him every week.
I don't approve of sending videos of our travelling to the driver weekly for a year, if I understood you correctly. To me, it's like emotional blackmail or torture. Much as I was disgusted by his tricking me into signing the agreement that helped him escape just punishment, I don't want to disturb his life. He didn't kill my husband intentionally even though his reckless driving caused this terrible tragedy.
Instead of the video, I wrote a letter to Mr Tiwarat. Pls read and tell me what you think. Is it possible to translate it into Thai and send it to Tiwarat? I’d be happy if it can help in any way to raise awareness for road safety in the blood-stained roads of Thailand?
Dear Mr Tiwarat
Someone told me he’d print photos of my late husband’s bike-travelling around the world and send it to you once a week for a year.
I said no point in worsening your guilt, assuming there is.
I was told by the insurance company I could only get 630,000 baht while the recent victims of accident in Chiang Mai got 1.2 million baht because you bought a cheap insurance. I was advised to sue you for the rest.
What’s the point of suing a poor man? I’ve no intention to land you in debt or pull a tooth for a tooth.
No amount of punishment or revenge can return a Great Life that was cruelly snatched from us by your reckless driving.
I dread the day when Lukas understands what Death means and learns how his dad died. I dread the sadness that would fill his little heart, and how he’d cry for his dad.
Lukas will never be able to play with his dad, be hugged and kissed by him again. Francisco forever missed out the joy and excitement of watching his son grow up. I lost a husband who loves and cares for me so much, and somebody to grow old with. This is the depth of the pain that can never go away.
Please drive carefully and promise me to never cause another accident and tragedy to a family.
I pray Thailand will have fewer and fewer impatient or drunk drivers, and that the convicted will receive fair and strict punishment that all road-users will fear and respect.
May the souls of all who were hit and died by the road close their eyes and find peace.
Wife of Francisco Villa
Chilean cyclist who died in Korat on 21 Feb 2015
I think ALL cyclists are grateful to Jomkwan Janpha for her help.
Jomkwan, should also be commended for placing Thailand in such a compassionate light. Showing to the rest of the world, that there are some truly wonderful Thai people, willing to help others in any way they can.
I and I am sure, others, hope, you have the strength & courage to move on with your life. You too are a remarkable person Jennel.
I tried to send you a private message but couldn't find a way to. For my slideshow on Francisco's accident, I'd like to quote what you wrote about cyclists being 'third-class citizens' in Thailand. Pls email me if you'd like to see how your comments are presented in the slideshow.