When Bad is Good Fortune
In the early morning hours of Monday the 20th of January, the lifeless
body of a motorcycle rider lies on the cold pavement for over an hour
after being hit by a speeding car.
That lifeless body was the 18-year-old brother of my driver.
crowd gathered as it always does at accident scenes in Thailand.
The traffic police arrived, but not before the crowd relieved the
dead body of its gold neck chain, a gold ring, and a hand phone.
The cops began their investigation, which always
includes spray-painting silhouettes around wrecked motorcycles and dead
bodies. It was a full hour
after the 2 A.M. accident when someone in the crowd shouted to the
police, “he’s not dead!” The
unconscious boy had moved just enough to draw the attention of the crowd
and quite possibly to save his life.
The 18 year old, named Aun, was rushed to a
hospital and placed in intensive care.
In the days since the accident, he has undergone one operation to
repair a severe compound fracture of his right leg and reconstructive
surgery to put his face back in order.
He is now in good condition.
Aun is still in the hospital with his broken jaw wired shut and a
steel pin in his leg.
of today, my driver Ed reports that the medical expenses total 140,000
Baht (about $3,333), a small fortune to the average Thai. In
Thai tradition, or perhaps law, it is the driver of the car that is
required to pay all of the expenses of the accident, and the guilty
driver in this case is meeting his obligations.
Aun’s expenses are likely to double before he is released from
the hospital, creating a severe financial burden on the car driver.
told me today that had Aun died, the driver would have been obligated to
pay the family 100,000 Baht. I
did a double take! He would have gotten off with a $2,380 obligation for killing the boy, but since Aun refused to die on the pavement, the driver will end up paying five
or six thousand dollars. My
only thought was that the driver likely regrets Aun not having died that
morning as everyone assumed. Ed
however, explained Thai reality to me.
In Thailand, it is not uncommon for the driver of an errant car
to run over motorcyclists a second or even a third time to insure that
the cyclist is dead. Nothing
personal, strictly a financial decision.
Ed and his family consider Aun quite fortunate.
They are convinced that had Aun showed any sign of life before
the police arrived on the scene, his life would have ended as the
car made a second or third pass over his body.
told me that he was once hit by a car while riding his motorcycle.
The collision destroyed his motorcycle and threw him to the pavement.
Although not badly hurt, hitting the cement knocked him silly.
As he was shaking his head back into full consciousness, he saw
the car returning for a second pass.
He scampered to the curb and lived to cycle