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US car tragedy: Uncle makes"symbolic" visa request for Thai rescuers

Ekkachai Thaidecha (right), representing the families of the two dead students, submits a letter to US Charge d'Affaires Peter Haymond (left) asking for visas for Thai rescuers to go and recover the bodies. PAWAT LAOPAISARNTAKSIN

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The families of two Thais killed when their rental car went over a cliff in California in late July have asked for visas for Thai rescuers to retrieve the bodies.

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US car tragedy families seek 'visas' for Thai rescuers

Online Reporters

The families of two Thais killed when their rental car went over a cliff in California in late July have asked for visas for Thai rescuers to retrieve the bodies, as bad weather continues to stall the American recovery operation.

Thiwadee “Min’’ Saengsuriyarit, 24, and her male friend Pakkapol Chairattanasongporn, 28, also known as Golf, were trapped in their vehicle when it plunged off a mountain road on their way to Kings Canyon National Park in California 15 days ago.

Their bodies have still not been retrieved. The Thai consulate in Los Angeles has received a report from a rescue operation chief advising that a strong storm in the area was preventing a helicopter reaching the valley where the car came to rest. 

The pair went missing on July 28. Their wrecked vehicle was found last Wednesday half submerged on a large rock in the river at the base of the 150-metre-high cliff beside California State Route 180.

Thiwadee “Min’’ Saengsuriyarit, 24, and her male friend Pakkapol Chairattanasongporn, 28, also known as Golf, were trapped in their vehicle when it plunged off a mountain road on their way to Kings Canyon National Park in California. (Photo taken from @SiamTownUS Facebook page)


Pakkapol's uncle Ekkachai Thaidecha, representing the families of the two dead students, went to the US embassy in Bangkok on Thursday to submit a letter asking for visas for Thai rescuers to go and recover the bodies.

Mr Ekkachai said he was fully aware that the visas would not be approved. It was a symbolic act, to encourage the US to urgently retrieve the bodies.

Thai rescuers could get the job done, Mr Ekkachai said. When a tour bus plunged off a mountain in Uttaradit last year, rescuers salvaged the bus within 6 hours. In the case of the two missing Thais, the mountain where their car plunged from the road was not so steep. The vehicle had landed on rocks below, he said.

In a statement issued on Thursday, the US embassy said, “We are closely following the situation and express our heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of the two Thai students involved in this tragic accident in California."

The US embassy has issued visas for members of the students' families, who have already gone to California.

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