Death of a young Australian man being treated by police as a tragic accident after an investigation this week which has reignited speculation about the dangers posed by hotel balconies in Thailand to partying foreign tourists.
Thai police in Phuket have concluded that the death of a young Australian man, identified as 22-year-old Billy James Simmons, on Tuesday night at his hotel on the island was a tragic accident. They have also revealed that prescription sex drugs were found in the young man’s room together with an empty beer bottle and half a bottle of Thai whiskey.
Local police in the Kathu District of Phuket believe that the death of a 22-year-old Australian tourist on Tuesday night in the Patong area of the resort island was the result of a tragic accident when he fell from the 11th-floor balcony of his luxury hotel.
Police have also revealed that unopened packets of the prescription sex drug Viagra were found in the deceased’s room together with a half-full bottle of Thai whiskey and an empty bottle of Chang beer.
Officers also believe that the young man had used some of the sex drugs found in his room.
Australian was on the holiday island for a two week vacation with 11 friends staying at a luxury hotel
Billy James Simmons had arrived in Phuket on May 14th last with 11 friends from Australia and was scheduled to leave the kingdom on May 28th next.
He was staying at the upmarket Royal Paradise Hotel & Spa near the island’s famed Patong nightlife centre with his friends when his body was discovered by a security guard taking a rest break at 10 pm on Tuesday.
A horrified Wongthatsatham Santi found the young man lying face-up on the pavement directly below the balcony of his hotel room and raised the alarm.
Rescue services had initially encountered difficulties accessing the body which was later removed to Patong Hospital.
Police investigation into the death revealed his friends had dropped him off at his room on Tuesday night
Police immediately launched an investigation into the death which involved interviewing his friends at the hotel and locals who had interacted with the young Australian during his stay on the island.
They also retrieved CCTV footage from the hotel and its environs.
It is understood that the young man’s friends told police that they had dropped him back to his room at the hotel on Tuesday night after spending some time partying with him in Patong’s notorious nightlife centre.
Police are satisfied that there was no evidence of a struggle within the young man’s room and believe that he fell from the balcony through some misjudged movement.
No sign of struggle in the hotel room
‘There was no sign of a struggle in the room. From interviewing the friends, they said they had been out partying with Billy then took him back to the room and left him there. Then he later fell from the balcony,’ said Police Colonel Sarit Budnongsaeng of Patong police, having reviewed the evidence in the case.
On Wednesday, it was reported that the father of the deceased was flying to Phuket to make arrangements to repatriate the young man’s body.
Massage parlour girls remember Billy
In Patong, on Thursday, many of the girls working the massage parlours along the way from the landmark hotel where this tragedy occurred on Tuesday night to the nightlife centre appeared to remember 22-year-old Billy Simmons.
They recalled that he often appeared to be intoxicated.
Khun Wan, one of the girls at a local massage parlour remembered him well: ‘I often saw him both in the morning and in the evening and he always looked like he was drunk. It’s a shock that he has died.’
Balcony deaths involving foreigners in Thailand are not uncommon and are caused by several factors
Tragedies involving foreign men in Thailand, particularly in nightlife hotspots such as Bangkok, Pattaya and Phuket are not uncommon as is also the case with other popular mass tourist destinations around the world including Spain.
The phenomenon is not such a mystery despite decades of intense speculation which emerges every time such a tragedy occurs.
In relation to Thailand, it is thought that balconies in high rise hotels are constructed with lower than normal outer railings or walls to accommodate the needs of the local population.
In Thailand, it has been suggested that the average height of such guard rails in high rise buildings is between 700 mm and 800 mm which is quite low for the average western visitor who can be anywhere from 1750mm to 2000 mm in height.
UK government campaign launched in 2012 aimed at holidaymakers travelling abroad using hotel balconies
This is a long-established phenomenon which led to an official campaign launched in 2012 by the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office in conjunction with the ABTA or Travel Association encouraging UK holidaymakers to exercise caution concerning balconies when abroad and especially when consuming alcohol.
‘Please use your balcony sensibly and safely to ensure the view you see won’t be your last,’ the campaign urged. ‘Dozens of British holidaymakers die or are severely injured every year as a result of inappropriate behaviour on balconies, often after having a few drinks or taking drugs.’
50% of balcony deaths in Thailand are linked with suicide attempts while 30% involve foreigners
However, there are several other factors in such deaths with an informal survey in 2016 based on 2015 deaths finding that nearly 50% of cases involved suicides with 34% of cases being deemed to be accidents.
Austrian dies in a fall from the 12th floor in Phuket. Death of 3 Austrian nationals within 48 hours
However, in Thailand, it is noteworthy that 30% of all such deaths are linked with foreigners and particularly westerners living in the kingdom, a disproportionately high number given the number of foreigners in the kingdom at any time, even including foreign tourists.
Local Police sources in Pattaya and Phuket have also linked such deaths and accidents, which also involve Thai nationals, particularly Thai women, with the consumption of alcohol which is more commonplace among western foreigners.
There is also an increasing prevalence in Thailand of foreign residents in the kingdom committing suicide.