Robert James Fossum
An elderly American man was found was dead in the Mekong River in Chiang Rai province on Wednesday morning in what is the most recent foreigner death in Thailand.
On the morning of Wednesday, September 7, a fisherman in Chiang Rai’s Wiang subdistrict found something unexpected when he went to set up his fishing rod in the Mekong River: a lifeless floating body. Officers from Chiang Khong Provincial Police Station, a physician from Somdet Phra Yupparat Hospital and local rescue workers arrived at the scene to investigate the death.
Police later established the identity of the man, naming him as Robert James Fossum, a 70-year-old American. Mr Fossum, police said, was floating with his face down in the middle of the river. Rescue workers had to use a boat to reach the body and to pull it to out of the water onto the river bank. Whilst doing so, they noticed he was not wearing any pants, just a navy blue long-sleeve shirt and a pair of shoes made of sailcloth. The on-site physician concluded that Mr Fossum had been dead for approximately 7-8 hours.
Police found no signs of violence on the body. His backpack, containing a room key to a hotel in the Chiang Khong district, was found nearby. At the hotel, police questioned employees and learned that Mr Fossum had only arrived on September 6, the day before he was found deceased.
According to an eyewitness who saw Mr Fossum leaving his room on the day of his death, he looked “as if he was going to exercise”. The next time anyone saw him, he was floating on the river. When police inspected Mr Fossum’s room, they found a farewell letter announcing his intention to commit suicide. Chiang Khong police are in the process of contacting the US Embassy to inform them about the incident.
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