Police removed the large fireworks container from the scene near where the body of Gary McLaren was found by Pattaya police officers responding to the scene after receiving frantic calls after 12.30 am of New Year’s Day. A full investigation into the incident is underway. The 50-year-old UK man, who lived in Thailand, had just returned from Northampton with his Thai fiancée having spent Christmas with his family in Corby.
A well-liked UK man’s life was cut short seconds into the new year on Wednesday after a fireworks carton malfunctioned outside a bar in Pattaya as the resort city rang in the new year with parties and sky sparklers. 50-year-old Gary McLaren was not only celebrating the start of 2020 but his engagement hours earlier to his beautiful Thai girlfriend Jasmine.
A UK man who had just returned to Thailand after spending Christmas with his family in Northampton in the United Kingdom died minutes into 2020 in Pattaya when a faulty firework tube exploded into his face.
Shocked friends and staff of nearby bars who had come out to watch Gary McLaren set off a large fireworks tube he had just purchased. They did not sense the danger when the large fireworks collection failed to ignite and then began billowing smoke.
A worker at one bar and eye witness described how the heartbreaking event unfolded. Wassana Ngontai told the media: ‘I saw the man try to set off the firework. He tried to do it two times. The first time didn’t work. The second time smoke came out,’ she said. She then defined the last and fatal seconds of Mr McLaren’s life: ‘The man didn’t move, then there was a big explosion in his face and he fell back.’
UK man suffered severe and bloody wounds to his face
Police and rescue workers responding to the scene found Mr Mc Laren with severe and bloody wounds to his face. He was lying on the ground in a pool of blood.
Emergency workers tried to give him CPR but soon realised that the UK man was already dead. He is believed to have died instantaneously from the explosion which shattered his face.
British Embassy notified
Police have already notified the British Embassy of the death of the UK man who was living in Thailand. The body of Mr McLaren was removed from the scene of the tragedy and is to be the subject of a post mortem examination while police undertake full investigation into the circumstances of his death.
Fireworks package thought to have been faulty – line for police investigation now underway
A key officer in that investigation will be Police Captain Nakhonrat Nontseelard. ‘We were notified that somebody had been killed by an explosion on Pattaya Beach Soi 13/2,’ he said on Wednesday morning.
The officer confirmed that the police had taken possession of the fireworks package which is thought to have been faulty. It will be at the centre of the investigation which will include finding out who sold the fireworks to Mr McLaren.
Incident happened outside Miami Go Go bar
Police Captain Nakhonrat, who is the deputy chief of investigations at Pattaya Police Station, confirmed that the address where Mr McLaren was killed was Soi Lain Chai 13/2 in the Nong Prue area of Bang Lamung. The incident occurred in front of the Miami A Go-Go bar.
It appears that the 51 cm high fireworks tube exploded on the second occasion after first emitting smoke right into the UK man’s face
Illegal to set off fireworks in Thailand
It is illegal in Thailand to set off fireworks without a licence but as in many countries, the law is lightly enforced with many vendors doing a roaring trade at this time of year up to and beyond the Chinese new year.
Heartfelt tributes to the popular UK man
The scale of the tragedy and the sad start to the new year can be seen in the countless number of heartfelt tributes paid to the popular UK man in Pattaya who was also a noted motorbike enthusiast.
Not least among them was one from his fiancée Jasmine with whom he had just spent Christmas at home with his family in Corby the former industrial town in Northamptonshire in the centre of the United Kingdom. Mr McLaren was also a former pupil of Tresham College near Kettering.
Thai girlfriend and fiancée cried and hugged his body on the ground as friends were silent and stunned
The tragedy was made all the more poignant and heartbreaking as hours earlier Jasmine had taken advantage of the leap year to propose to Gary who had been overjoyed with his good fortune.
The 26-year-old woman cried and hugged his body as it lay with a sheet on the ground just minutes into the new year and what was supposed to be a new start for the pair. Friends and onlookers stood around stunned and in a state of disbelief at what had happened.
Picture of Mr McLaren minutes earlier when his Thai girlfriend proposed to him with a cake
A picture of an earlier scene at the bar was taken and posted by an American bar owner in Pattaya, Mike Copperman. Mr Cooperman posted a photo of Jasmine proposing to Gary that night and left the following message: ‘I will always remember how happy you were that night. RIP Gary, a good friend and brother. Jasmine, please accept our deepest condolences to his family. If you need anything please let us know.’
Thai woman pays tribute to her UK love
Mr McLaren’s fiancée, Jasmine, later posted a photograph of the couple showing the contented looking UK man and his Thai partner smiling and happy together. She had hours earlier presented her marriage proposal to him on a cake which said simply: ‘Gary, will you marry me?’
Later she posted a picture of the loving couple and with a message: ‘This is the last picture for you honey, you will be in my heart forever babe.’
An appalling tragedy in Pattaya at the opening of 2020
It is a heartrending and appalling story from Pattaya, a town synonymous with party time on the Eastern Coast of the Gulf of Thailand.
As the sky filled with light, colour and explosions over the resort only seconds into 2020 on Wednesday morning, a UK man emerged onto the street brimming with celebration and love. By appalling tragedy and ill-luck, all it took was a split second explosion among many, to end it all forever, leaving his loved one in tears and his friends searching for an explanation.
On New Year’s Day, a spokesperson for the UK Foreign Office confirmed that they were offering assistance and support to the family of a British man who had died in Thailand.