Thomas Barsch

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A taxi ride from Tak to Pattaya ended deadly for a tourist from Denmark when the driver dozed off during the journey and crashed into a lamp post.

“We were notified of a serious accident involving a taxi at around 11:00 Thursday morning,” deputy investigator Pol Capt Jamrat Chatwet of Khanu Woralaksaburi Provincial Police Station described the events. Pol Capt Jamrat, additional officers and rescue workers of the Sawang Kamphaeng Phet Rescue Foundation were dispatched to the scene.

“The accident took place between kilometre 395 and 396 on Phahonyothin Rd in Don Taeng subdistrict of Kamphaeng Phet province,” the investigator told reporters. Rescuers found the wrecked car, a yellow-green taxi with the license plate มข 9000 Bangkok, flipped over in the middle of the road.

The driver and his two passengers on the back seats, a Thai woman and a 49-year-old tourist from Denmark, were still inside the car when rescue workers arrived. “All three sustained very serious injuries,” Pol Capt Jamrat said. The driver, Surasak Jandaeng, 51, suffered a skull fracture, the 26-year-old woman named Daeng Sukgun was pulled out with a broken right arm.

As for the Danish tourist, all help came too late. The man, who police identified as Thomas Barsch, had succumbed to his injuries before emergency workers arrived. Rescue volunteers brought his body to Khanu Woralaksaburi Hospital; the two injured Thai passengers were rushed to Kamphaeng Phet Hospital.

Only several hours after the fatal accident, the driver’s condition was stable enough for police to question him about the crash. “Mr Surasak told us that he had travelled from Bangkok to Trat to pick up Mr Barsch and his friend Ms Daeng and drive them to Pattaya,” Pol Capt Jamrat revealed. “He said he arrived in Trat at about 10:00.”

According to Mr Surasak’s statement, he suddenly dozed off for a few seconds during the ride back to Pattaya and slowly drifted towards the side of the road. When he opened his eyes, he panicked and tried to bring the car back on course. He then lost control of the vehicle and crashed into a lamp post.

“The impact caused the car to flip over and land upside down on the road,” Pol Capt Jamrat described the events. “Fortunately, no other vehicle was involved in the crash.”

Police have already informed the Danish Embassy of Mr Barsch’s death. The investigation is still ongoing.

Rolf Werner Ruegg

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Police in Phuket are investigating the puzzling death of a Swiss national whose body was found on Tuesday with no hint of what had caused his death.

The body of Rolf Werner Ruegg, 81, was found by his housemaid, Chonticha Jarunai, on the afternoon of Tuesday, April 25. “He lay dead on his bed wearing a yellow vest and blue shorts”, she told Pol Lt Chanad Hongsitichaigun, the lead investigator at Chalong Provincial Police Station.

According to Pol Lt Chanad, Ms Chonticha last saw the Swissman when they were both having dinner together at his house at 35/138 Luang Por Chaem Rd in Phuket’s Chalong subdistrict at around 21:00 on Saturday, April 22. “He looked fit and healthy,” the housemaid said.

Ms Chonticha had become concerned after sending several text messages to Mr Ruegg but never received any reply. “She told us that she had texted him at 21:00 on Saturday and at 20:30 on Monday afternoon,” Pol Lt Chanad said.

When she sent him a third message on Tuesday at 14:50 which again remained unanswered, she went back to his house only to find Mr Ruegg laying dead on his bed. She then called the police and contacted Mr Ruegg’s wife, 58-year-old Nom Saengurai, who had been visiting her family in Phatthalung province to celebrate the birth of her daughter’s child.

“We briefly examined the body but didn’t find any visible injuries or signs of violence,” investigator Pol Lt Chanad told reporters. “No objects of value were missing either.” Police estimated he had been death for at least two days prior being found.

Phuket Ruamjai Rescue Foundation volunteers brought Mr Ruegg’s body to Vachira Phuket Hospital. “We’re now waiting for the autopsy report to find out the cause of death,” Pol Lt Chanad said.

Scott Robert Townsend

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A British tourist seen walking drunk on Patong Beach in Phuket and then entering the water was found drowned on Friday morning.

Pol Capt Yingyong Chuaigit at Patong Provincial Police Station said residents saw the man on the beach at around 8:00. “He appeared to be drunk,” the captain quoted their statements, adding that they had approached and recommended him to go back to his hotel to sober up.

Shortly later, people in the area saw him entering the water and then lost sight of him. Lifeguards who had been notified of his disappearance went out to search for him but returned unsuccessfully. At 10:00, lifeguards called the local police station and asked for help.

Police officers and rescue workers from the Kusoldharm Foundation were dispatched and extend the search area to find the missing tourist. The body was found some 20 minutes later and sent to Patong Hospital where he was identified as 38-year-old Scott Robert Townsend.

During the investigation of the death, Pol Capt Yingyong found out that Mr Townsend had entered Thailand on Saturday, April 15 and was due to leave the country a week later. “He was staying at a hotel close to Patong Beach. In his room, we found his passport, credit card and some clothes”, investigator Pol Capt Yingyong said.

Marius Hubert van Drunen

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The fulfilling life of a Dutch diving instructor came to an abrupt end when he collapsed and died in the bathroom of his villa on Koh Samui.

Jilly Masters, the wife of Marius Hubert van Drunen , 44, discovered the body of her husband at around 11:00 on Friday morning. “She told us that she had found him inside the bathroom, but dragged him out before we arrived,” deputy inspector Pol Lt Dula Sawangrad of Bo Phut Provincial Police Station said according to TNews.

Police, rescue workers and a doctor from Koh Samui Hospital were received by Mrs Masters who led officials to a spot in front of the bathroom where his body was lying. A brief medical examination found a laceration on the back of the head which most likely had been caused when he collapsed, police speculated. “We didn’t find any other injuries or signs of a struggle,” Pol Lt Dula added.

By questioning his wife Mrs Masters , who herself is a British national, police learned that Mr van Dunen was suffering from diabetes which required him to see a doctor regularly. His next appointment was scheduled for April 26. But when Mr van Dunen’s wife woke up on Friday morning, she found him dead in the bathroom in their shared house in Moo 4, Bo Phut subdistrict.

Mr van Dunen was a professional diving instructor who had been living in Thailand for over 17 years. After working at Easy Divers Koh Samui, he joined Calypso Diving in Bo Phut, one of the first diving schools on the island. “Marius loved his job,” Mrs Masters told police. “He gave diving lessons every day.”

Police have not yet been able to establish the cause of death of Mr van Dunen. “We have to wait for the results of the autopsy,” Pol Lt Dula said. Police asked Mrs Masters to come to the station to make an official statement. Meanwhile, rescue workers brought Mr van Dunen’s body to Koh Samui Hospital for further examination.

Andrew Christopher Laidler

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Pattaya’s famous Walking Street turned into macabre showplace when a British tourist unexpectedly fell from the 3rd floor of his hotel onto the street.

Sawang Boriboon rescue workers were called to Walking Street in Chon Buri’s Bang Lamung district at 04:30 early Friday morning. As they arrived, they found Andrew Christopher Laidler, 31, lying naked and severely injured on the street gasping for air. A large group of Thais and tourists surrounded the scene to watch emergency workers trying to save his life.

Moments earlier, the 31-year-old Briton had fallen from the 3rd floor of the Sweet Heart guesthouse. The cause for his fatal fall is still unknown. Tourists who were walking down the street told police they were startled when the man suddenly landed on the ground among them. “There was no warning, just the sound of him hitting the street,” an eyewitness said according to Bangkok Post .

After administering first aid, rescue workers rushed Mr Laidler to Pattaya Memorial Hospital. However, doctors were not able to save the life of the British tourist; he was pronounced dead shortly after his arrival.

Police inspected his room – A26 – and found no traces of a struggle. His belongings were untouched, police said. Investigators told the media they are going to examine CCTV footage recorded by cameras in the area. They also planned to question witnesses and staff of the guesthouse where Mr Laidle had stayed to learn more about the fatal fall.