The tragic death of ophthalmologist Ratchanee Supawatjariyakul has predictably fueled demands for stricter safety measures on Thailand’s roads – consistently ranked among the world’s most dangerous.
Understandably, the passing of Dr Ratchanee dominated the headlines in Thailand for many days. She was popular, successful and from a prominent Thai family.
For sure, dozens of people are killed every day on the kingdom’s roads. Most of their deaths go largely unnoticed.
Those overlooked victims include a young Irishman, Niall Doran, who was fatally mowed down by a speeding taxi on Sukhumvit Road on January 16, 2022, a few days before Dr Ratchanee’s sad demise.
Niall, a gentle soul with a rich Irish brogue who hailed from a small town near Dublin, had been in Bangkok for four years, working as the export manager for Covco, a leading supplier of medical and industrial gloves.
On the night of his death, Niall had been out with friends to enjoy the first day without having to use crutches for a now mended ankle he had broken in a freak accident two months earlier. He had also just discarded leg plaster and cumbersome foot protector,
Heading home, he was also using a zebra crossing when his life was cut short. And like Dr Ratchanee, he was just inches from the safety of the central reservation when the accident happened, shortly before midnight.
Niall’s final moments were witnessed by a young student from Switzerland seated in the back of the speeding taxi. She had been looking out of the side window trying to spot the condo where she was staying when Niall was suddenly catapulted onto the vehicle’s hood and smashed against the windscreen.
By coincidence, it was the same condominium where Niall was living, so the young Swiss woman was able to immediately identify the stricken Irishman.
With help from a security guard who rushed to the scene, an ambulance was called and Niall was given emergency CPR on the spot. He was taken to Chulalongkorn Hospital, even though Samitivej, Camillian and Sukhumvit hositals were all probably just as close, and was declared dead shortly after arrival.
The driver was arrested by police who said later the taxi was travelling at approximately 100 km/h when it hit Niall. He driver told the police that he was looking for a U-turn on Sukhumvit when the accident occurred.
Friends speculate that Niall, without crutches and heavy boot, may have overestimated how quickly he could reach the safety of the central reservation.
It is also been suggested that this area of Sukhumvit is not particularly well lit at night and also has fairly thick bushes growing on the road divider, all of which may have impaired the taxi’s vision.
Nonetheless, the driver faces prosecution for his part in the accident. However, because he is described as his family’s “only breadwinner”, the sentencing is expected to be light.
Niall’s family was informed of his death and his brother has been in Thailand to settle his personal affairs.
A quiet, low-profile expat, Niall’s death will go down as just another victim of this country’s extraordinarily dangerous road. While not receiving the deluge of news that accompanied Dr Ratchanee’s accident, he will be mourned by a small circle of close friends.
Hopefully, their deaths won’t be in vain and new road safety measures are implemented. – C.H.
Veteran German motorcyclist killed in Rayong road accident
Dennis, a German national who worked for Hoechst in Thailand in the 1970s, was living in the US before the accident but planned to spend more time in his house in Rayong. He was 79.
In his 20s, Dennis represented Germany at judo in several competitions. He was a keen motorcyclist who had toured extensively on two wheels in the US, Europe and Thailand. He was a long-time member of the Royal Bangkok Sports Club
The couple has a son and daughter living in the US.