Boat passenger falls into Saen Saep canal, drowns

Boat passenger falls into Saen Saep canal, drowns

Divers retrieve the body of Theerapong Silalit, 50, from Khlong Saen Saep, bringing it ashore at Nanachat pier in Watthana district, Bangkok on Thursday. (Photo by Somchai Poomlard)
Divers retrieve the body of Theerapong Silalit, 50, from Khlong Saen Saep, bringing it ashore at Nanachat pier in Watthana district, Bangkok on Thursday. (Photo by Somchai Poomlard)

A passenger drowned after falling from a commuter boat on Khlong Saen Saep in Watthana district while attempting to jump onto a pier before mooring was completed.

The man tried to disembark at Nanachat pier, behind Saint Dominic School at Soi Sukhumvit 15 around 6.10am, said Chawalit Methayaprapart, manager of Family Transport Co, which operates boats on the canal. 

The passenger jumped on to the pier before the boat was properly moored, but missed his footing, he said.

The driver stopped the boat and waited near the pier, but there was no sign of the missing man emerging from the water, Mr Chawalit said.

Divers found his body about 10.30am, 100 metres from the pier where he fell in, the Amarin radio centre, run by the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration reported.

The dead man was later identified as Theerapong Silalit, 50, a driver. He sustained injuries to his neck and shoulder area during the fall. Video footage showed he was swept under the stern of the boat.

Boat driver Wichian Thammamor and conductor Pornchai Sae Yang later made statements about the accident to Makkasan police.

Mr Pornchai, 35, said the boat left Wat Sri Bunruang pier at 5.30am, arriving at Nanachat around 6am. Before he had a chance to tie the boat to a mooring pole one passenger jumped onto the pier, preventing him completing the task.

He shouted out to the passengers, asking them not to jump before the boat was properly moored. Then a second passenger jumped to the pier, but missed his footing and fell into the canal.

Mr Pornchai said he called out that someone had tumbled into the water and asked the driver to move the boat away for fear propeller would hit the passenger.

The scene became disorganised as the other passengers tried to see what happened. He asked them to stay calm and sit down, the fare collector said. 

He then phoned the boat company to inform them of what happened and asked the firm to alert emergency services to help rescue the missing passenger. 

The boat remained moored nearby for about 30 minutes but there was no sign of the missing passenger.

Other passengers began asking to be taken to a pier so they could go to work. After setting down the passengers Mr Pornchai and the driver returned the vessel to company mooring before reporting to police.

“I felt bad, sorry and guilty about what happened. I never thought such an incident could occur. In my five years working on the boat I have never come across anything like this.

"I tried in vain to ask passengers not to jump on to the pier, but nobody pays attention," he said. 

"I had met the victim on several occasions as he was a regular passenger and often boarded the first trip. I collected a fare from him this morning. I feel bad because he travelled with us, and he lost his life," Pornchai said.

Mr Chawalit, the boat operator, said the firm would cover funeral rite expenses. His boat was insured.

“We are at fault for letting passengers stand on a boat’s gunwale before it arrives at the pier. A campaign was launched earlier asking passengers not to stand on the gunwale when the boat is not moored, but we found we could not control them.

"We are awaiting the investigation result and will accept the outcome,’’ the boat operator said.

Thai media reported that the victim, Theerapong, was one of the people on board a commuter boat that exploded on Saen Saep canal on March 5 this year near Wat Thep Leela pier, injuring 67 passengers.

(Photo by FM91@fm91 trafficpro twitter)

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