Roger John Hussey
A video clip showing the last minutes of an Australian tourist’s life has become viral on social media. The 71-year-old tourist shown in the clip died after he fell 70 metres during a parasailing accident in Phuket.
Lifeguards at Kata Beach in Phuket’s Karon subdistrict called the emergency department of Patong Hospital at about 12:00 on Wednesday to report a parasailing> accident involving an elderly tourist. The hospital dispatched an ambulance and rushed to the incident area on the beach opposite the Club Med Phuket resort.
Karon Provincial Police Station confirmed that Roger John Hussey, 71, had been standing on Karon Beach, preparing himself for his first parasailing experience shortly before the accident. His 47-year-old wife, Butsabong Tongsangga, had been standing next to him on the beach filming him on her mobile phone. The footage become viral on social media and has been published in various international news media including The Washington Post and The New York Times.
Mr Hussey, wearing swimming trunks and a red t-shirt, was smiling as 45-year-old Montian Jandaeng, a parasailing operator, helped him into a body harness and life jacket before lift-off.
Mrs Butsabong told police, “We live in Chiang Mai and were on holiday in Phuket. He was very interested in parasailing and wanted to try it himself. After spending some time watching, he was convinced that it was safe, so went to have a go.”
About twenty seconds after Mr Hussey and Mr Montian had taken off, with the camera rolling, Mr Hussey is seen kicking his legs at an altitude of approximately 70 metres. Suddenly, he suddenly plunges and falls into shallow water.
Dozens of local beachgoers and tourists witnessed the tragic accident and rushed to the scene. “When Mr Hussey was brought back to the beach, he was briefly conscious,” said deputy investigator Pol Lt Suwisut Kirirak of Karon Provincial Police Station in a press conference later that day. “The lifeguards who rescued Mr Hussey reported that he was seriously injured and had red marks all over his body.”
Medics arrived at the beach even before Mr Hussey had been pulled out of the water and immediately tried to rescuscitate him. An ambulance arrived shortly after and rushed the victim to Patong Hospital. However, there was nothing doctors could do. He was pronounced dead at 14:30 in the hospital’s emergency department.
In the meantime, police officers have confiscated the parasail and its associated equipment including the body harness in question. They will be investigating whether the accident was caused by a mechanical harness failure; whether Mr Hussey panicked and somehow loosened his harness in midair, or whether Mr Montian was somehow at fault. “All parasail operators are responsible for the safety of their equipment and providing an adequate pre-saftey briefing,” said an officer solemnly.
Currently, no country in the world issues government standards regulating parasailing safety.
In the short-term, police have arrested and charged Mr Montian and Mr Rungrot Rakchip, the 38-year-old captain who towing the parasail, with recklessness endangerment causing death. When questioned, Mr Montian insisted that Mr Hussey himself was at fault, not his equipment. Pol Lt Suwisut stated later that day,”He claimed that Mr Hussey had accidentally unstrapped his harness and this action led to his fatal fall.”
Police released a statement: “We are still investigating the case to find out why Mr Hussey came separated from the parasail and who is to blame,” said superintendent Pol Col Sanya Tongsawad. “We are now reviewing the paperwork and credentials of the two parasailing operators to see if they had the proper permits to run their business. We will also check the condition of the equipment since it was their responsibility to ensure its safety.” A post-mortem examination has also been scheduled to clarify whether Mr Hussey drowned or died upon impact.
Mr Hussey was the CEO of an Australian investment company and had served on the boards of several government and community bodies. In a written statement, authorities described Hussey as “intelligent and energetic”.
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