Bentley driver to face additional charge

Bentley driver to face additional charge

Damrongsak says panel investigating officers at crash scene after driver declined breath test

Suthat Siwapiromrat, who declined to take a breath test at the scene of an accident involving his Bentley, is seen making a phone call shortly afterward On Jan 8. (Image from TV Channel 8 video)
Suthat Siwapiromrat, who declined to take a breath test at the scene of an accident involving his Bentley, is seen making a phone call shortly afterward On Jan 8. (Image from TV Channel 8 video)

Police will summon the Bentley driver involved in an expressway collision that left eight people injured last week to hear an additional charge after narcotic substances were detected in his blood.

National police chief Damrongsak Kittiprapas said on Saturday that investigators must press additional charges against Suthat Siwapiromrat after a blood test at Police General Hospital found narcotic substances in his system.

Pol Lt Gen Jirasan Kaewsaeng-Ek, deputy commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Bureau (MPB) said on Friday that an initial test showed the substance that could be methamphetamine, ketamine, diazepam or nordiazepam. Further tests were being done to determine exactly what it was.

Early last Sunday morning, the Bentley driven by Mr Suthat rammed into the back of a brand-new Mitsubishi Pajero in the middle lane of the Chaloem Maha Nakhon expressway. The impact caused the Pajero to overturn before it was struck by an oncoming vehicle the right-side lane.

The incident left six people in the Pajero — one of them a four-year-old child — injured, along with two firefighters in the other vehicle.

Mr Suthat exited his Bentley, walked down the expressway and hailed a cab in an apparent bid to flee the scene, according to a report from a team of first responders

According to one of the first responders, Mr Suthat appeared intoxicated. However, he refused to take a breathalyser test, claiming he had chest pains due to the airbag inflating at the time of the accident. He agreed to take a blood test instead.

The blood test showed an alcohol level of 10.73 milligrammes, well below the legal limit of 50mg. Police say the blood test was conducted within an hour of the incident but other sources said the delay was four hours.

The police handling the case has drawn a barrage of criticism and accusations that the driver was being favoured because of his wealth and connections. A director of several companies and a well-known political donor, Mr Suthat is a brother of New Economics Party leader Manoon Siwapiromrat.

Pol Gen Damrongsak said the MPB had set up a fact-finding panel to question the officers who did not conduct an alcohol test on the driver immediately after the crash.

He had earlier issued an order when serving as a deputy national police chief that a breathalyser test must be conducted immediately after a crash. If a driver is injured and cannot take a breathalyser test, police must immediately take the driver to undergo a blood test. Any driver refusing to do so would be considered intoxicated.

Disciplinary action would be taken against officers if the investigation results found they were negligent in their duty at the accident scene. The panel would look into the facts before deciding whether criminal action would be taken, said Pol Gen Damrongsak.

The immediate commander of the officers handling the case must be held responsible, said the national police chief, adding that he would not help any officers escape punishment.

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