The danger posed by motorbikes in Thailand sees dreams crushed and lives lost every day. The situation is also an economic issue. Young Australian man suffers a nightmare accident on Ko Samui while in Phuket, the carnage continues despite safety warnings. At least 40 people die on Thailand’s roads every day. Over 85% of them died while riding on motorbikes. 

The danger of motorbikes in Thailand for foreigners, even a harmless scooter was evident last week when the dreams of a would-be Muay Thai master were shattered along with his legs in a devastating road traffic accident on the idyllic island of Ko Samui. That horrific smash came just four days after another Australian died when he momentarily lost control of his motorbike while riding on a highway in Phuket. On the same day, a Russian also lost his life riding one of the deadly vehicles.

23-year-old mine operator, Tommy Kirk, from Kitchener, New South Wales in Australia. He came to Thailand for two weeks to study Muay Thai. Instead, a horror motorbike smash on Ko Samui destroyed his dream holiday. 36 people die on Thailand’s roads every day of the year riding motorbikes. Tommy was one of the lucky ones, four days before, two foreign tourists died in Phuket, also riding on motorcycles.

An ambitious pursuit of Muay Thai mastery took a dark twist for Australian Tommy Kirk last week. 

In short, the 23-year-old aspiring martial artist from Kitchener, NSW suffered a shattering leg injury in a motorbike collision.

The incident took place on the vibrant streets of Ko Samui, Thailand, a paradise island off Surat Thani province. Mr Kirk had taken a holiday from his work as a mine operator at home to pursue his dream.

Muay Thai tourism is a growth sector in Thailand and the Australian is the type of visitor Thailand seeks out.

Cruel blow delivered to diligent Australian at Muay Thai training camp on Ko Samui leaving him severely injured and burdened with mounting medical bills

Just as the Aussie was three days into his rigorous two-week training camp, destiny lashed out with a cruel blow. In brief, a reckless driver careened into Tommy’s path, while safely riding a scooter at an easy pace.

Friends and family this week explained how Tommy was especially careful to drive slowly and not consume alcohol while riding the scooter. 

In turn, the forceful impact catapulted Tommy into the air. Afterwards, he found himself in a whirlwind of excruciating pain and mounting medical bills.

The calamitous incident for the young man unfolded on January 30.

Tommy and his companion, Blake, were both navigating their scooters back home after a day’s training. An intersection became the site of a nightmarish smash with an oncoming vehicle. 

Driver travelling fast on the wrong side of the road hit Tommy riding his scooter at full force. It basically put paid to the young Australian’s dreams

Certainly, the other driver was moving in a reckless and dangerous manner. The accident happened at an intersection.

The oncoming vehicle was driving at speed on the wrong side of the road. The high-impact collision resulted in devastating consequences for the Aussie man. At length, it put paid to Tommy’s dreams 

Nathan Jones, a close friend and professional Muay Thai fighter, recounts the harrowing scene: ‘Tommy was only crawling along when another driver came flying through an intersection and wiped him out. He was trapped there on the side of the road, and the ambos had to come and clean him up. Bad compound fracture. A clean break of the tib and fib in his lower leg.’

The repercussions of the collision reverberated far beyond the confines of the street. Emergency surgery became imperative.

Doctors worked hard to save Tommy’s badly damaged limb. It was not long before the question of hospital and associated medical bills arose for his family

After that, doctors fought valiantly to salvage Tommy’s fractured limb. However, amidst the ordeal of recovery, another grim reality emerged – the looming spectre of exorbitant medical expenses.

Despite being covered by travel insurance, Tommy’s hopes for financial support were quickly dashed. His insurance provider cited a glaring loophole – motorcycle injuries of this nature were not included in the policy coverage. 

Therefore, another dire predicament unfolded. It left Tommy’s family struggling with the daunting prospect of shouldering staggering medical costs.

The disastrous consequences of the accident are yet another sobering account of the perils lurking on the roads of Thailand. In particular, for travellers navigating bustling thoroughfares on motorbikes of any nature. 

Thailand’s roads are among the most dangerous in the world. However, its position has dropped from second most dangerous to sixth in the table in recent years.

Carnage on Thailand’s roads continues. The kingdom suffers startling road traffic injuries each year, so much so that it is a significant economic issue

Meanwhile, nearly fifteen thousand people died on Thailand’s roads in 2022. Previously, the death toll was over twenty thousand per annum. Figures for 2023 are not yet finalised but are understood to be similar.

The figures so far in 2024 are 1,622 dead or the equivalent of 15,579 for the year. At the same time, so far in 2024, a astounding 93,207 have been injured. In effect, this means a mind-boggling 895,000 for the year.

World Bank report warns Thailand of huge potential economic loss caused by road carnage

Significantly, in view of the fact that most motorbike riders are young and mobile, the impact is tremendous. Unquestionably, it offers a glimpse into the huge risk associated with motorbikes in Thailand.

A report by the World Bank in 2018 made the situation clear. Dangerous use of vehicles on Thai roads represents a key economic negative for the kingdom. In effect, an issue that was destroying 22% of potential GDP growth and opportunity.

Foreigners must be wary of Thailand’s roads before visiting the kingdom. Especially, the need to have fully comprehensive and watertight insurance cover

Meanwhile, Tommy’s plight is a lesson for other foreigners visiting Thailand.

In brief, the imperative of meticulous insurance planning. Furthermore, an insistence on comprehensive motorcycle coverage.

Tommy’s friend Nathan Jones subsequently spearheaded a fundraising campaign, rallying support from friends, acquaintances, and sympathetic strangers alike. It is another tragic story in the absence of automatic insurance cover once proposed by the Thai government.

Tourist insurance plan for all visitors agreed by cabinet scotched again by top ministry officials for stop-gap measure
Time for dithering on tourist insurance to stop as the PM orders universal coverage for all visitors to Thailand
Tragic death of a Taiwanese tourist is another wake-up call for the government regarding insurance cover

Unfortunately, online fundraising is now the standard recourse for people desperate to help.

Friends are trying to alleviate Tommy’s financial burden. Of course, they want to see him journey back home to commence the arduous road to recovery.

Tommy’s story could have been darker still. Four days earlier in Phuket two foreign tourists were killed on motorbikes as the death toll continues to rise

The incident will be hard to bear for the young man. One instant his dreams are alive on a beautiful tropical island, the next, everything has turned to chaos and destruction. Nevertheless, the story could be darker still.

Phuket to enforce more control on motorbike rentals as 15th foreigner this year dies in Karon area
Swede dies in motorbike crash after 5 days in Thailand seeking to marry his 27-year-old fiancé from Roiet

Four days earlier in Rawai, Phuket, another tragedy befell an Australian tourist in a fatal motorbike crash. Statistically, in the same four-day period, a total of 144 people perished on motorbikes, across Thailand.

The Australian tourist’s identity was undisclosed pending notification of next of kin. He succumbed to severe head and chest injuries sustained in the accident. 

Tourist died hours after being hospitalised at Chalong Hospital in Phuket. Police probe subsequently attributed his death to a momentary lapse of focus

The horrific incident played out near the Bangchak petrol station on Wiset Road’s southbound lane. At length, it was another grim reminder to the local community and tourist enclave.

Local authorities swiftly responded to the distress call.

Emergency services rushed to the scene to find the victim in critical condition. Despite heroic efforts by medical personnel at Chalong Hospital, the tourist’s life could not be saved. He subsequently passed away at 7 am the following day.

Post-mortem procedures were conducted at Vachira Phuket Hospital in Phuket. The results provided police with further insights for their criminal investigation.

Russian also died on Kata Hill on the same day

Nevertheless, CCTV footage retrieved as part of the accident investigation gave police their answer. 

It depicted a scene fraught with tragedy. Investigators discovered the tourist simply lost control of his motorbike. After that, it hurtled at speed into the central reservation on the road. In short, a deadly mishap or momentary loss of concentration.

Afterwards, in a distressing parallel, there was a second fatal road accident in Phuket on the same day.

This happened on Kata Hill in Phuket itself. In brief, it claimed the life of yet another victim, believed to be a Russian national.

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Further reading:

Swede dies in motorbike crash after 5 days in Thailand seeking to marry his 27-year-old fiancé from Roiet

Canadian the latest foreigner killed in a motorbike accident in Thailand early on Friday in Pattaya

Harrowing scene as Canadian cries for his dead wife at early morning accident in Kanchanaburi

Confusing traffic lights and reckless driving may have caused death of French tourist in Ayutthaya

Police investigate Ukrainian teacher’s death after a hit and run traffic incident in Sa Kaeo province

Tragic death of a beauty queen and two others in a road accident near Khon Kaen University is a loss