Zip-line victim’s family receives ‘record’ payout

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The family of a Chinese woman killed at a Chiang Mai zip-line line has received what was described as the largest-ever compensation payout for a tourist-related death.

Provincial Gov. Pawin Chamniprasart on Oct. 21 invited the parents of 32-year-old Wang Qi to meet with representatives from the Tourism and Sports Ministry, Chiang Mai Business & Tourism Association, local police, and executives from the Flying Squirrel zip line and its operator, Tree Top Flight.

The victim’s father accepts the 2.8 million baht compensation for his daughter’s death.The victim’s father accepts the 2.8 million baht compensation for his daughter’s death.

Pawin said all the area’s tourism organizations regret the death of Wang, who fell from the Pong Khrai ride and suffered a broken neck Oct. 12.

Flying Squirrel’s insurance policy paid the family 1 million baht. In addition, the Ministry of Tourism & Sports contributed 300,000 baht and Flying Squirrel put in another 1.5 million for a total 2.8 million baht.

Chiang Mai Business & Tourism Association President Pornchai Jitnawasathiern said that amount is the most ever paid anywhere in Thailand after the death of a tourist.

Patchamon Suntrakorn, CEO of the Tree Top Flight, apologized to the family on behalf of area tourism groups and her staff, which has been vilified on social media for apparently attempting to shift blame for the accident, initially telling police Wang had a heart attack. It wasn’t until friends questioned that determination that a postmortem examination was performed, showing the true cause of death.

Flying Squirrel Manager Santhi Pitikarm, who attended the meeting with the family, was subsequently arrested after authorities determined the zip-line ride was operating without a permit and had encroached on the Mae Rim National Forest Reserve.

Patchamon asked for consideration from the public, claiming her company has taken full responsibility and has worked to do the best thing possible for the family.

Wang’s father prepared a letter in Chinese, which was read out in English. In it, he said Flying Squirrel did take full responsibility and “the Thai government has kept its promise to compensate them.”

“Although we have lost somebody very precious, I will return to China and tell the media that everything has gone well in accordance to what was stated by the Thai government and will encourage people to still visit Chiang Mai,” he said.