Two agencies bicker over blame for electrocution deaths

Two agencies bicker over blame for electrocution deaths

Police and bystanders on the canal footpath at the scene of the tragedy in Bang Phli district, Samut Prakan, where a motorcyclist and a lottery vendor on a bicycle were electrocuted and drowned on Wednesday afternoon. (Photo: Sutthiwit Chayutworakan)
Police and bystanders on the canal footpath at the scene of the tragedy in Bang Phli district, Samut Prakan, where a motorcyclist and a lottery vendor on a bicycle were electrocuted and drowned on Wednesday afternoon. (Photo: Sutthiwit Chayutworakan)

SAMUT PRAKAN: Two local authorities are squabbling over responsibility for the deaths of a motorcyclist and a lottery vendor, who were electrocuted and drowned in a canal in Bang Phli district on Wednesday.

The reason they died has been traced to a faulty light fitting atop a power pole causing a power leakage, and the local electrical authority and the tambon authority are each blaming the other. 

Motorcyclist Sukawee Kwakhiran, 26, and lottery ticket cyclist Assawin Srisalab, also 26, died on Wednesday after they plunged into Khlong Lat Krabang canal around 3pm, said Pol Col Sanhawat Kaewduangsri, deputy investigation chief at Bang Kaew.

Witnesses told police that Sukawee was driving his motorcycle along the canal-side concrete path when Assawin approached from the other direction pedalling his bike.

Sukawee swerved to avoid a crash but lost control of his motorbike and it plunged into the canal, taking him with it. The lottery vendor then jumped into the canal to rescue the motorcyclist. Both drowned.

The motorcyclist's uncle, Sonthaya Bangthettham, lives near the canal and said he rushed to help the two men. But when he lowered his feet into the water he received an electrical shock and quickly pulled them out.

Other residents used screwdriver circuit testers to check the nearest power pole and said there was a power leakage. They immediately contacted police. Local electricians inspected  the site and said they found no power leaks that day.

The two bodies were sent to a nearby hospital for post-mortem examination.

On Thursday, electricians from the Metropolitan Electricity Authority’s Bang Phli branch office inspected the scene. They concluded that a faulty light on top of the pole caused a power leakage into the canal. (continues below)

The crashed motorcycle lies in Khlong Lat Krabang canal in Samut Prakan's Bang Phli district after the rider and a cyclist died there in the water on Wednesday. (Photo: Sutthiwit Chayutworakan)

Yasothon Sukprasong, director of the Bang Phli electricity branch office, expressed regret over the two deaths.

But he said the lights were the property of the local tambon administration organisation, which was responsible for maintaining them.

Mr Yasothon said he would talk with the TAO about the matter, as normally there would be no lights turned on during daytime.

The motorcyclist fell into the canal and was electrocuted, he said. The lottery vendor went to his rescue unaware there was power leak at that spot.  

Songchai Nokkhamin, chairman of Racha Thewa TAO, said he was told that an initial investigation found that a faulty light fitting caused a power leakage.

Facts were, the TAO had asked the Bang Phli electricity office to help install the lights in Racha Thewa. The electrical wiring and the lights had been purchased by the electricity office.

After installation, the electricity office handed over maintenance of the lights to the TAO, which provided the budget funds.

Mr Songchai said the TAO provided new light bulbs when needed. The TAO was not responsible for repairs to damaged lights or the wiring.

The responsibility was clear, the buck could not be passed, he said.

An electrician checks the light atop the power pole. (Photo: Sutthiwit Chayutworakan)

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