Park owner charged after elephant’s deadly rampage

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The owner of a Huay Yai elephant camp was charged with negligence after a Chinese tourist pulled Plai Uten’s tail, causing it to charge the crowd and kill a tour guide.
The owner of a Huay Yai elephant camp was charged with negligence after a Chinese tourist pulled Plai Uten’s tail, causing it to charge the crowd and kill a tour guide.

The owner of a Huay Yai elephant camp was charged with negligence after a Chinese tourist pulled an elephant’s tail, causing it to charge the crowd and kill a tour guide.

Prasert Taweepiradee­boonsueb, owner of the Golden Triangle tourist attraction, and elephant keeper Oo Bamrung were charged by Huay Yai Police Dec. 22 for failing to maintain proper safety standards, which led to the tour guide’s death and injuries to two visitors.

Pattaya Tourist Police commander Pol. Lt. Col. Piyapong Ensarn and Banglamung District Secretary Chartchai Sripho-on inspected Golden Triangle Dec. 22 to check for proper licensing and permits.

Yongjie Hee, 35, was trampled by Plai Uten, a 17-year-old bull, after a group of 30 Chinese tourists surrounded the animal and one pulled its tail Dec. 21.

The elephant charged and injured two of the guests. Tanli Lai, 54, suffered broken ribs and a lung injury and was in intensive care at Banglamung Hospital. The other tourist suffered only minor injuries.

District Chief Naris Nira­maiwong visited Tanli Dec. 22 and awarded her 20,000 baht in compensation.

Golden Triangle Manager Rangsan Panawatnukul said the park has been closed until further notice and Uten has been isolated.

Thai tour guide Phumpat Preedeesertsri, 30, said the incident began when his group of 30 was intercepted by another group of elephant riders.

Security guard Sakda Malee, 27, added that he asked the other group of Chinese tourists to give way, but they ignored him. Some, in fact, crowded the elephants to take selfies.

Finally, a group of tourists entirely encircled Uten and one pulled its tail, sending it on its rampage.