By The Nation
All 50 people on board the coach were family members, friends or neighbours. The accident occurred in Nakhon Ratchasima last Wednesday as they were heading to Chanthaburi province for a leisure trip together.
In addition to the 18 deaths, more than 30 people were injured in the crash.
Sadness filled the air at the Dong Krayom Udomkhun Temple in Kalasin’s Muang district where five bodies were cremated at 2pm yesterday.
Some of the survivors of the crash attended the ceremony in wheelchairs and had to return to hospital for further treatment.
There were similar scenes at the Buddhamongkhon Forest Temple in Kalasin’s Muang district where other coach-crash victims were cremated at 4pm yesterday.
Because there were many victims, both temples arranged mass cremation on funeral pyres.
Sompong Preewilai, 51, lost his wife in the fatal accident, and was in tears at the funeral.
“I really don’t know what to do in the future. My whole family cannot yet cope with what happened. It’s too sudden,” Sompong said. “Whenever I think of my wife, tear runs down my face.”
The Mental Health Department has formed 12 teams to take care of people who lost family members in the crash.
“Some of them have become depressed and sleepless,” the department’s director-general, Sqn-Leader Boonruang Triruangworawat, said.
Coach driver Krissana Jutachuen has been charged with reckless driving that caused death and injury to others, fleeing the scene, and abusing drugs.
Krissana, who is now in detention, allegedly admitted to having taken methamphetamine before the trip.
“We may charge him with speeding, too, if tests confirm the coach was going beyond legal limits,” Provincial Police Region 3 commissioner Pol Lt-General Damrongsak Kittiprapas said.
Krissana’s employer would also be investigated.
Rattanaporn Thumkesorn, who survived the accident, said Krissana left the steering wheel before the crash occurred.
“I saw him running past me when the coach started to lose control. I saw him rush to open an emergency door and jump out,” Rattanaporn said.
She said the tour leader had tried to prevent the tragedy by immediately instructing her husband to rush to the steering wheel.
“But it was too late,” Rattanaporn lamented.