Family holds memorial at deadly minivan crash site

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The family of three of the seven people killed in a horrific minivan crash earlier this month held religious services at the Highway 36 crash site and the van operator’s garage before as they waited for officials to release the bodies for cremation.

About a dozen relatives of Sukhsan Bunthum, 54; his wife Siriwan, 51; and granddaughter Pinchat Thumcharoen, 7, invited four monks from Rayong’s Natakhwan Temple to the spot near the Bira Circuit race track to perform Buddhist ceremonies aimed inviting the victims’ spirits to pass on. The group then continued to the van operator’s base on Soi Mabyailia 24 in Nongprue where they lit incense and chanted stanzas.

Relatives of the deceased bring monks to the site of the horrific accident to begin the long, painful process of healing their hearts.Relatives of the deceased bring monks to the site of the horrific accident to begin the long, painful process of healing their hearts.

Umaporn Bunthum, the 27-year-old daughter of Sukhsan and Siriwan and mother of Pinchat, said her relatives had gone to Bangkok to purchase 200,000 baht in lottery tickets and show their granddaughter around the capital. When they didn’t return on time, Bunthum found out about the accident and checked locals hospitals, only to receive the tragic news.

She said funeral services are planned at Pa Pradu Temple in Rayong. After the three-day service, she plans to meet with the van driver, who was arrested after the crash, and the operator’s insurance company to negotiate a settlement. She said, however, she wants driver Chuchart Photchai, 50, to stand up, take responsibility and explain what happened.

Umporn’s family, plus Jamnien Singhkhet, 51, daughter Suphakorn Singkhet, 38; and son Theeraphat Mingmit, 9 months, died with another unidentified male after the Bangkok-Rayong liquid petroleum gas-powered van hit a “no U-turn” sign and burst into flames May 2. The driver and two others were injured and treated at Queen Sirikit Hospital.

Police said Chuchart cut across lanes and slammed into the post, possibly because he was distracted by conversation or fell asleep. Investigators He was charged with reckless driving resulting in death.

Relatives, naturally, remained traumatized, with several claiming ghosts of the deceased could be heard crying or were causing dogs to bark.

Once relatives departed the crash site, students from Ranjamangala University of Technology Phra Nakhorn arrived to collect information and capture images of the van and the accident for inspection and research to increase preventions and solutions to traffic deaths.