A 68-year-old woman plunged to her death from a Bangkok expressway yesterday when her car, which had broken down, was struck from behind by another vehicle at about 9pm as she stood next to a highway patrol officer who had come to her aid.
Tunyapat Wipanpong, who had parked her car in the far left lane of the Chalong Rat Expressway, died instantly after the violent collision, which propelled her into the air and to the pavement some 40 meters below.
The officer who was helping her, Pol. Lt. Supot Chainok, was knocked from his motorcycle, while a pregnant woman still seated in Tunyapat’s car received only minor injuries.
The incident happened about 200 meters from the Sukhumvit 50 exit.
Thirty-six-year-old Nuchanart Prommana, the driver of the Toyota Fortuner that slammed into Tunyapat’s Kia, told police she was driving in the emergency lane because she was about to take the exit, and she believed the parked car was still moving as its emergency lights were not on.
In CCTV footage of the incident, which has been share widely, the Fortuner can be seen slamming full speed into the parked grey Kia, which in turn strikes Tunyapat, sending her hurtling over the edge of the expressway.
According to Khaosod, Tunyapat landed near Soi Pridi Banomyong 2 in Phra Khanong district.
Authorities found 27-year-old Kamanat Rungreangwisit, who is four-months pregnant, in the back seat in a state of shock, unable to speak.
Lt. Supot, who fell from his motorbike, was sent to Police General Hospital.
“The emergency lane is supposed to be designated for cars that have broken down or have been in an accident [on the highway]” Supot told PPTV during a broadcast interview yesterday. “Theoretically, you’re not supposed to drive in this lane.”
That’s a key “theoretically,” as if you’ve ever driven in Thailand, you’ll know that drivers routinely use the emergency lane as though it were simply any other lane.
Maj. Gen. Krisana Pattanacharoen, deputy spokesman of the Royal Thai Police, said yesterday that Nuchanart, driver of the Fortuner, had been taken into custody after a medical checkup.
“We will interview all witnesses, gather all relevant evidence and wait for the post-mortem medical report … in order to come up with a charge that is fair for all parties,” he said.