The driver of a crashed car was found dead inside the crumpled wreckage almost 12 hours later - after it had been towed to the police pound.
The discovery has drawn harsh criticism of authorities and the people who attended the crash scene for their failure to properly examine the wrecked car for the missing driver.
The car hit a concrete barrier on a motorway in Si Racha district of Chon Buri province on Tuesday morning.
Emergency responders saw no sign of the driver and the smashed-up car was shortly afterwards towed to the Khao Khiew highway police vehicle pound in tambon Bang Phra, Si Racha.
A police officer at the pound who examined the wreck later that evening was most surprised to find the body of Phattarachai Atthaporn, 68, of Rayong, still in the driver's seat. He had severe neck injuries and broken bones and had been dead several hours, Thai media reported.
Pol Lt Col Ratthaphon Wanna, deputy superintendent of highway police station 1, said on Wednesday that the crash was reported around 7am on Tuesday.
The white car with Bangkok licence plates hit a concrete barrier at kilometre marker 105 on Pattaya-bound Motorway Route 7 in Si Racha district. A rescue team did not see the driver at the scene and thought he might have been taken to hospital before they arrived.
Highway police then asked the rescue team to tow the wreckage of the car to the vehicle pound for storage until the owner's relatives contacted them, he said.
At dusk, nobody had showed up and he went to check documents he expected to find in the car. To his astonishment he found a dead man in the driver’s seat. He immediately advised Si Racha police station.
Thai media reported that relatives of the dead driver met Khao Khiew highway police on Tuesday night. The body was taken to Police General Hospital for post-mortem examination.
A staffer at Phiang Yiang Thai Sri Radio station, which is run by a rescue foundation, said a team of medics there was advised of the crash about 7.45am on Tuesday. Witthaya Danphimai said a highway rescue team told them there were no injured or dead victims at the scene, so they withdrew.
He said the rescue team that earlier inspected the scene should have more carefully checked whether there were any people inside the wreck.
The news trended on social media, with heavy criticism of those involved for not thoroughly checking for surviviors.
Pol Maj Gen Ekkarat Limsangkard, commander of Highway Police Division, said on Wednesday that a fact-finding investigation was being launched into what happened and why.
Motorways were joint jurisdiction areas of the Department of Highways and highway police. When road accidents occurred, police were duty-bound to inspect the crash scene and take appropriate action against people involved, Pol Maj Gen Ekkarat said.
The dead driver not being discovered until almost 12 hours after the crash should not have happened, he said.