Inquiry set up into doctor's car hitting security guard

Dr Yorn Chiranakhon, photographed as he reported to Muang Nonthaburi police station to acknowledge the charges against him. (Photo by Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)

A fact finding committee has been set up to investigate a senior government doctor who crashed his car into a security guard and dragged him along the road, causing him serious injury.

Panpimol Wipulakorn, health deputy permanent secretary, said the permanent secretary wanted to ensure fairness for the two sides, who both worked at the Public Health Ministry.

The accident at Bamrasnaradura Infectious Diseases Institute in Nonthaburi province on Friday night involving Yorn Chiranakhon, a senior doctor at Health Centre Region 12 overseeing the South, was captured on surveillance camera video.

It showed his vehicle hitting the security guard on duty at the gate as he left. The vehicle then drove forward over the inert guard's body, and dragged him down the road.

Dr Panpimol said the ministry had asked the medical team at Pranangklao Hospital to give the best treatment to the 22-year-old guard, Somchai Yamdee, who was closing the gate when he was hit.

Mr Somchai underwent surgery twice for serious head injuries and remains on life support in the intensive care unit. On Tuesday he was reported to have regained consciousness and was able to follow doctor’s instructions.

Dr Panpimol said the ministry will improve visibility at all gates, installing lights and trimming trees as well as at other risk spots.

“No one wants to see an accident. The entrance at Bamrasnaradura Infectious Diseases Institute, where the accident occurred, is quite dark. The gate is painted a dark shade so it is difficult to see. The ministry will repaint the gate, from green to a fluorescent colour,” she said. (continues below)

Police inspect the accident scene at Bamrasnaradura Infectious Dieseases Institute, part of the Public Health Ministry. (Photo by Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)

Dr Yorn held a news conference Monday evening and expressed his regret over the accident. He insisted he had not tried to flee and was willing to meet Mr Somchai's medical expenses.

However, at the scene he refused to allow police to take a blood sample to test whether he was intoxicated. The doctor was intially charged with reckless driving causing severe injury to another person and driving under the influence of alcohol.

Dr Yorn acknowledged the two charges at Muang Nonthaburi police station on Tuesday. He also faces a further two charges of refusing a police reqest to allow a test for alcohol consumption, and attempted  murder. 

The doctor denied all charges. 

Pol Col Pannaphat Detchchotevisith, superintendent of Muang Nonthaburi police station, said police still need to question more witnesses to the accident, such as the motorcycle taxi drivers, rescue workers and bystanders.

He said there may be  members of the public who took videos of the accident, and they were asked to give them to police to assist in the preparation of the case.

Pitikarn Sithidej, director-general for the Department of Rights and Liberties Protection, said Mr Somchai would receive initial compensation from the car insurance company of 35,000 baht and other compensation under the law for victims of crime and defendants in criminal cases. 

Pongsak Sasimahasak, director of Social Security Office Area 12 of Bangkok, said the victim is a daily employee for a security service company. He had been hit while on duty and taken to a state hospital from the beginning, so his medical treatment limit is 2 million baht.

He can file a court case seeking more medical compensation from the vehicle’s driver if the cost exceeds the limit.

Mr Somchai is also entitled to receive 4,836 baht a month from the Social Security Office as compensation for being unable to work. The payment is limited to one year.

The victim’s elder brother, Chainarong Nakthai, said the family were satisfied after Dr Yorn said he would accept responsibility for the accident and was ready to enter the justice process. The family hoped to meet Dr Yorn to discuss the case and seek a clear, written statement of his accepting responsibility for medical fees, compensation and other expenses. The doctor had sent his secretary to help look after the family after the accident.

Mr Chainarong said legal procedures would be handled by the police. 

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