A 27-year-old lorry driver who went on a city centre rampage yesterday said he was on drugs and broken hearted before he ran amok.
Ekkapot Yossiri was arrested and charged with reckless driving and drug abuse yesterday after he broke through police checkpoints, hitting dozens of vehicles on a 5km chase and injuring three people.
A total of 38 vehicles including six motorcycles were damaged as the lorry hurtled from Phetchaburi Road in the Pratunam area to Thong Lor Road and on to Sukhumvit Road near Ekamai bus terminal, police said.
The incident was reported about 1pm when Thong Lor police were alerted that a white six-wheel lorry driver had run a red light, smashed through checkpoints and was driving in an erratic manner.
Police attempted to stop the six-wheel lorry by Phaya Thai police station near Pratunam intersection for a traffic violation. As police approached, the driver sped off and drove through the checkpoint heading to Phetchaburi Road.
Phaya Thai police then alerted their colleagues nearby to stop the lorry. The vehicle then headed to the Makkasan area, returned to Phetchaburi Road, and turned on to Soi Thong Lor. It passed Thong Lor police station, turned left on to Thong Lor Soi 10 and on to Ekamai Road.
Along the way, the lorry hit and damaged dozens of vehicles. Police from Phaya Thai police station pursued the lorry and tried unsuccessfully to stop it, even shooting at the tyres.
However, the vehicle came to a stop near Big C supermarket on Soi Ekamai when it ran out of fuel. The driver fled the vehicle but he was chased by a group of 20 people. He was apprehended in front of a coffee shop and then taken to Thong Lor police station for questioning.
Metropolitan Police chief Sanit Mahathavorn said the suspect admitted he had used drugs and police found some ya ice in his possession. He also tested positive for drugs. He said Mr Ekkapot faced initial charges of reckless driving, possessing narcotics and drug abuse. He added that Mr Ekkapot was arrested on drug offences in 2011, 2013, 2014 and recently in July this year.
Mr Ekkapot told police he had used drugs for three days prior to the road rampage because he was upset that his wife had left him.
Before the incident, he delivered construction materials to a client in the Saphan Kwai area. On his way back, he drove in the wrong lane and was stopped by police. He said he sped away because he had no money to pay the fine.
He added that he had used drugs for over three years every time he drove but had never been involved in a road accident before.
Phet Thaweesin, one of the victims, posted a video clip on his Facebook when his car was hit by the lorry. Mr Phet said he had just left his office to see a customer in Thon Buri.
"He drove like he was high on drugs," he said. The post was shared online and sparked criticism and harsh words against the driver.
An initial investigation found that the lorry is insured with Syn Mun Kong Insurance to cover only 600,000 baht in compensation to damaged parties.