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A large group of Thais gathered outside the Villa Market in Chalong on the 9th of April to protest over the death of 16-year-old Thananbavorn “Lotus” Durongpan, who was killed just after 1am on Saturday (April 5) when he was hit by a car as he rode his motorbike along Patak Rd from Chalong Circle.
The incident has sparked anger at the Russian woman driving the car, at her friends and, by extension, Russians in general.
The Phuket News’ Russian-language sister paper Novosti Phuketa contacted Russian police volunteers who reported that the driver, known only as Larisa, allegedly made a U-turn on Patak Rd next to the Shell filling station, knocking the boy – who was travelling in the same direction – off his bike. He was not wearing a helmet.
Larisa drove away. A man known only as Valentin, thought to be her husband, was following in another car. He stopped briefly but, deciding that Lotus was dead, he too sped off.
Police failed to find either of the drivers. But witnesses helped officers to track down one of the cars to a rental agency, where they found it had been rented to a third Russian national, named Ekaterina. She told the police that she was a passenger with Larissa and witnessed the accident, which she described.
But now, apparently, she has left the country, as have Valentin and Larisa. The main witness – Ekaterina – also disappeared after the police questioning. Police also interviewed Anna, the host of a party the Russian couple had been to before the accident but she told them she did not know their full names.
The flight of the three Russians has caused bitterness, not only among the boy’s family but also among the frustrated police.
Capt Thada Sodarak, investigation officer at Chalong police station told The Phuket News, “Wherever country people come from, whether developed or not, I believe we all have hearts. But what these Russians showed is that they are heartless – they don’t care. They just left.
“I asked [Ekaterina and Anna] to tell me the full names of their friends. But they just don’t care.
“I understand the intensity of the feelings of the boy’s relatives. Nevertheless, I have told them not to attack these Russian people. I have also ordered the police to look after the safety of everybody at Villa Market.” (Villa Market is a popular shopping venue for Russians in the Chalong area.)
“Right now we know who is the driver who killed the boy, but we can’t reveal anything. We just want to have the driver’s full name to advance the investigation. But no one will tell us.
“Of all the [foreigners] who live in Thailand, the Russians cause the most problem. Look: they come to our country, hit our children, and then when they feel like it they [run away].
“I asked them [the Russian witnesses], ‘Look, what would you do if a Thai goes to your country and hits and kills your children? Would you let him go back home?’ They said nothing.”
Som, the mother of the dead boy, told The Phuket News: “Lotus was a good boy. He worked and took care of his grandmother and his brothers and sisters. On the night he died he had gone out to buy some mosquito repellent. “I have donated his eyes to the Thai Red Cross Society and already someone has received them.
“I don’t want my son to have died without someone paying for it. I’m ready to forgive because I don’t want [his spirit] to worry, but these Russians [the witness Ekaterina and and the party host Anna] are shirking their responsibility. They are not going to reveal the real name of the driver. It seems they are trying to protect their friends.”
The family were also critical of the police for allowing the witness Ekaterina to leave the country; she apparently flew out to Dubai on Monday (April 7). “How could the police not hold on to her passport?” Mrs Som asked. “She is the only witness.
“The car that hit my son went through a police checkpoint. Four officers were there but no one could catch that car.”
Pim, the boy’s aunt told The Phuket News that the family had done a deal of investigating before the police reacted, identifying the car and even the party venue, where they found one man still drunk, surrounded by empty beer and alcohol bottles.
Police declined to give more details of the investigation, but police volunteers said they would welcome any more details about the two drivers, Larisa and Valentin.