NYC hit-run victim's body brought home

NYC hit-run victim's body brought home

The mother of Ubonwan Kullanin holds a toy car in memory of her daughter, who had said she wanted to save up to buy a car after finishing her studies in the United States. (Photo by Wichayant Boonchote)
The mother of Ubonwan Kullanin holds a toy car in memory of her daughter, who had said she wanted to save up to buy a car after finishing her studies in the United States. (Photo by Wichayant Boonchote)

HAT YAI — Emotions ran high as the body of a 27-year-old student killed by a hit-and-run driver in New York City was returned home on Friday night.

The body of Ubonwan Kullanin was flown from New York on Thai Airways International Flight TG 217. Her father Manit Kullanin and relatives waiting at Hat Yai airport burst into tears when the coffin arrived.

Her mother Karnpan remained at home in Bang Klam district of Songkhla, still grief-stricken and struggling to come to terms with the loss of her daughter.

Ubonwan or Nong King was struck by a Mitsubishi pickup while walking on a street in the New York City borough of Queens on the night of Feb 22. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

Childhood photos of Ubonwan Kullanin are displayed on the wall of her family's home. (Photo by Wichanant Boonchote)

Driver Valentine Gonzalez, 27, fled the scene but was stopped by police just one block away. He has been charged with reckless driving causing death and driving without a licence.

Ubonwan's body was taken to Wat Cholathawas in tambon Tha Chang of Bang Klam district where funeral rites were being held.

Mrs Karnpan arrived at the temple on Saturday clutching a toy car, a symbolic gesture that recalled a conversation she'd had with her daughter. Ubonwan said she intended to save money to buy a new car after completing her studies and getting a job.

Mrs Karnpan said on Saturday that her daughter had gone to New York in August 2013 to study language and gain experience abroad.

She thanked Thai people and consular officials in New York for holding religious rites for her daughter there and for donating money to cover the expenses of bringing Ubonwan's body home.


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