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For several days, social media heaped praise on a celebrity actor and DJ who was seen helping a teenager injured by a motorcycle accident.
The incident took place in the early hours of April 27 in Bang Khen. Chawalit Simankhongtham said at the time he saw the teenger hit by another motorcyclist, who fled the scene, so he stopped his car and went out to help tend the victim’s wounds. The teeanger, 18-year-old Jirapas Thong-asa, later died of his injuries on Tuesday.
“He’s so kind-hearted. This is someone the society wants,” wrote the person who first shared the story to Facebook.
But the 34-year-old DJ admitted on Thursday – eight days later – to crashing his car into the motorbike, for which police are now pressing charges against him. The investigation only took off after a complaint was filed by the deceased teenager’s embittered mother.
“On the first day we talked to him, he only said two motorcycles crashed into each other and he happened to be at the scene,” investigator Chainarong Daengsongkhum of Sai Mai Police Station said by telephone. “Yesterday he admitted to being the driver.”
For the crash, Chawalit was charged with fatal reckless driving, driving without a license and driving without mandatory insurance. Police said they have CCTV footage of the scene as evidence against Chawalit, who also works as TV personality.
At the police station yesterday, Chawalit also encountered Somkuan Thong-asa, mother of the teenager he killed. He gave Somkuan a hug, wai in apology, and pulled out a stack of money, said to be 30,000 baht, to cover the funeral’s cost.
When Somkuan hesitated, the DJ pressed on with the money, saying he only wanted to help and that it wouldn’t affect the case. Somkuan only accepted upon her lawyer’s advice.
Somkuan later told reporters she was upset by Chawalit’s refusal to come forward earlier.
“If the DJ truly wanted to take responsibility, he should have gone to the funeral since day one,” Somkuan said. “If the media didn’t report the news, he might not have showed up at all.”
Lt. Col. Chainarong said Chawalit wouldn’t face charges of hit-and-run because he did show up at the police station shortly after the accident to file a report about the crash, though at the time he did not identify himself as the driver.
Speaking to reporters at the police station, Chawalit said he was shocked by what happened.