Harrowing scenes on Wednesday night as a 34-year old American woman watched in horror as her newfound friend 26-year-old Camille Jeanne Gavaudan’s life drained away as she lay face down on the road after being hit by a car at a road intersection and zebra crossing. Police are planning to reinterrogate the 42-year-old driver of a White Toyota car who, it is reported, failed to offer assistance to the dying woman at the scene in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy despite an apology to her family.
The landlady of the guest house where an American and French tourist stayed earlier this week has criticised the traffic light system in Phraya Nakhon Si Ayutthaya in Ayutthaya province where a French tourist was tragically killed on Wednesday night in a road traffic accident while riding a bicycle. Police sources in Ayutthaya have suggested that the diver of a Toyota Altis car, found at the scene, may face charges for speeding, reckless driving causing death and failing to render assistance to 26-year-old Camille Jeanne Gavaudan who died shortly after being removed from the accident scene on Wednesday night in Thailand’s former ancient capital.
Police officers in Phraya Nakhon Si Ayutthaya are investigating the tragic death of a French tourist on Wednesday night in the heart of Ayutthaya who died by the roadside after sustaining serious injuries while crossing a busy road intersection, reported also as being a zebra crossing.
Policeman jailed, sacked from the force over the death of young doctor at a zebra crossing in Bangkok
26-year-old Camille Jeanne Gavaudan was travelling with a 34-year old American woman whom she had met previously in Bangkok when the tragic incident occurred.
Western tourists planned to travel further together in Thailand after meeting in Bangkok on May 24th last
Tara Nico Scuri met Camille in Bangkok and the pair had decided to travel to Ayutthaya together on May 24th to see the former Thai capital’s historic sites.
Ms Tara told reporters they had rented bicycles in the old city the day before and were staying at a local guest house.
They were returning to it after dinner when disaster struck.
The American said that the two women were left confused by the traffic light signalling system at the crossing before the accident occurred.
The lights appeared to be both green and red at the same time.
26-year-old woman left lying face down with broken limbs and was bleeding profusely according to the police officer investigating the case in Ayutthaya
As the two women crossed the intersection on bicycles, coming as traffic from the left-hand side, a white Toyota car, an Altis model, hit Ms Camille’s bicycle at speed leaving her lying flat on the road with broken limbs and bleeding profusely.
Police Captain Wirunkit Tantrakul of Phraya Nakhon Si Ayutthaya Police Station is handling the investigation.
He revealed that police were treating the incident as a potential criminal case.
He disclosed that when he arrived at the scene he noted that the woman was very seriously injured and called in rescue services who later removed her to Thammasat University Hospital where she died shortly after admission.
He also said he noticed a White Toyota Altis at the scene.
The car was found to have damage to its left bumper area and a smashed windscreen after impacting the French woman.
42-year-old driver told police he only drove forwards at the traffic lights after they had turned green, dashcam footage from his car supports his claim
The driver of the car has been named as 42-year-old Sathapana Khumsupha
He explained that he was driving home from work when the accident occurred.
The light had been red but then turned to green.
He admitted that the lights for the left turn still showed red but were green for traffic heading straight which was the direction he was going in.
Mr Sathapana said that all of a sudden two bicyclists appeared in his way from the left and although he braked, he said it is impossible to prevent the collision with one cyclist with fatal consequences.
He apologised to the family of Ms Camille whose mangled bicycle was left in the middle of the road.
Police took Mr Sathapana in for questioning.
It is understood that dashcam footage from his car showed that the traffic lights did indeed register green and red for the left-hand turn at the same time.
Police weigh charges against the man including a count of reckless driving causing death and speeding
However, police sources suggest that there is a distinct possibility that the Thai man may be charged with speeding and reckless driving causing death based on their preliminary findings.
Officers are understood to be planning to reinterview the Thai man and will interrogate him concerning claims that he failed to emerge from his car after the accident to render assistance to the fatally injured woman.
The accident came on the same day that Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan ocha spoke at a seminar in Bangkok where a goal was set to cut road fatalities in Thailand by two thirds over the next five years.
Thailand’s roads are destroying its future economic growth as well as causing acute trauma and suffering
Up to 60 people aged from 15 to 19 years of age die on the kingdom’s roads each day riding motorbikes alone, the conference heard, while there has also been a noticeable rise in speeding and dangerous driving.
The toll on both society and the Thai economy which increasingly depends on finding a younger and more educated workforce, has been highlighted in successive international reports such as those prepared by the Bloomberg Institute in association with the World Bank.
These highlight both the enormous and serious consequences for future development and prosperity besides the acute trauma and long term suffering inflicted on families leaving hundreds of thousands with long term injuries and disabilities.
In 2018, it was reported that the kingdom stood to lose up to 22% of its potential for economic growth if the problem was not tackled.
Slight improvement over the last four years
Thailand has seen some improvement in its road traffic statistics in recent years, at least relative to other countries.
Thailand’s road accident rate is still a red light – many factors driving the carnage with no easy fix
It has fallen from being the second most dangerous country for road traffic accidents to number nine according to the latest World Health Organisation (WHO) data with a road fatality rate of 32.7 per 100,000 people.
In 2018, it was 36.2 just behind the score for war-torn Libya.
PM sets target of zero lives lost in Thailand by 2050 with a two-thirds reduction in fatalities by 2027
On Wednesday, before disaster struck in Ayutthaya, General Prayut was telling his audience in Bangkok about the kingdom’s long term target of eliminating all road traffic fatalities by 2050 based on the ‘Vision Zero’ model implemented in Sweden during the 1990s.
In the meantime, the short term goal was a two-thirds reduction over the next five years.
However, the Prime Minister, who has had eight years of experience in running the country, has already felt the heat of public opinion when moves are made to ramp up regulation and road traffic standards by controlling driving licences and imposing financial penalties on errant drivers, acknowledged the truth of this problem.
Public cooperation and a change of attitude needed
The Thai public does not welcome government initiatives which are seen as limiting personal freedom even in the interests of road safety.
On Wednesday, the PM alluded to tackling this resistance as the key to solving the problem.
He said it would require a renewed spirit of cooperation from the Thai people which police agencies and officials have indicated over the past decade is lacking, to solve the problem.
‘I ordered that the law must be strictly enforced against traffic offenders. But I would have liked to seek people’s cooperation first,’ General Prayut explained. ‘I can’t criticise people but I can remind them.’
Guesthouse landlady where the two foreign tourists were staying rushed to the scene and blamed the city’s confusing traffic light system for the tragedy
At the harrowing scene, last Wednesday night, onlookers were busy taking photos of the aftermath of the fatal accident while the American woman, the fatally injured woman’s cycling companion, looked on in a state of shock and tears.
Her landlady at the local guest house rushed to the scene after hearing that one of her guests had been killed.
The landlady was scathing about the traffic light system which she felt had been a contributory factor to the accident and called for measures to make such crossings more easily understood by foreigners visiting Thailand.
She said it was shocking that a person should have to take their life in their hands depending on conflicting light signals.
It is understood that the two women had been planning on continuing their journey in Thailand by visiting Chiang Mai in the north before disaster struck.