The owner and driver of a speedboat that carried TV actress Nida “Tangmo” Patcharaveerapong to her death in the Chao Phraya river in Bangkok on Thursday have been charged with negligence and operating an unauthorised vessel.
Pol Lt Col Uthen Hongthong, the chief interrogator at Muang police station in Nonthaburi, said on Sunday that police on Saturday night formally pressed charges against Tanupat "Por" Lerttaweewit, who owned the speedboat, and Phaiboon "Robert" Trikanjananun, who was driving the vessel when Nida plunged to her death on Thursday.
The two men, who were held under arrest warrants issued by the Nonthaburi Court, were charged on two counts: the first with operating an unauthorised vessel and the second on the more serious charge of negligence leading to the death of a person.
The latter carries a maximum fine of 200,000 baht or 10 years' maximum imprisonment or both.
Mr Tanupat insisted on Saturday his boat was legally licensed but admitted that the vessel tax this year was overdue by a few days.
The other four people on the boat were Idsarin "Gatick" Juthasuksawat, Tangmo's personal manager; Wisapat "Sand" Manomairat, another woman; and Nitas "Job" Kiratisoothisathorn.
Police interrogated Mr Tanupat and Mr Phaiboon late into the night at Muang police station, and police experts were called in to check their mobile phones to substantiate the allegations in the presence of their lawyers.
The two were granted bail on Sunday.
Police have questioned at least eight people so far -- all five on board the boat, two ship warehouse owners and another person whose name was not disclosed.
The boat owner told an army of reporters on Saturday he and other friends were not wearing life jackets but the boat had lifebuoys in case of emergency.
Ms Wisapat was at the rear of the boat when Nida fell into the Chao Phraya, Mr Tanupat said.
The actress reportedly went to the back of the boat to relieve herself.
Ms Wisapat said on Sunday she was looking at her mobile phone while Nida held on to her legs at the rear of the boat before slipping into the river.
Ms Idsarin, Tangmo's manager, said she was gazing at the river when the accident happened. She said the boat trip was only for sightseeing among friends and acquaintances.
Nida had not wanted to wear a life jacket because she wanted to pose for photos on the boat in her bodysuit, she added.
Her mother, Panida Sirayutthayothin, has said she did not believe her daughter's death was the result of an accidental fall.
Mr Tanupat, the speedboat owner, said on Saturday everyone on the boat tried to find her after she fell into the river and contacted rescue agencies, police and the shipyard owners to help with the search.
Nida's body is still at Police General Hospital awaiting a detailed autopsy. A police source said the result of the postmortem was expected later on Sunday.