Thailand extradites fatal hit-and-run suspect to the US (video)

Upon request of the FBI, Thailand yesterday extradited the prime suspect in a hit-and-run case that claimed the life of a young Michigan State University student back to the US to face prosecution.

The accused, 57 year old Tubtim “Sue” Howson, is believed to have hit and killed 22 year old Ben Kable with her BMW 320i in Oakland Township early on New Year’s Day. After the crash, Tubtim fled the scene.

Records show that Tubtim – who is a US citizen originally from Thailand – boarded a plane on Tuesday, January 3 and made her way to Bangkok via Dallas then Helsinki on Finnair to flee prosecution.

In the days that followed, the FBI filed an extradition request to have Tubtim flown back to Michigan. Thai police soon tracked her down and found her in Ratcha Buri province.

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On Wednesday, February 15, deputy commander-in-chief of the Royal Thai Police Surachate “Big Joke” Hakparn held a joint press conference with the accused, in which she agreed to do the right thing and return to the US to face the charges filed against her.

Big Joke said he didn’t arrest Tubtim but encouraged her to turn herself in. In her own words, Tubtim described the turn of events on January 1…

“I left home for work around 5.30am to 6am. It is wintertime and it was very dark. There was usually nobody walking on the road there, except deer.”

“I did not think I would run away, but I was very shocked. I tried to call the police but my hands were shaking. I could not do anything.”

After the incident, Tubtim confided in a friend that she thought she killed someone and was going to leave the US for her homeland.

When the friend encouraged her to surrender to the police, Tubtim allegedly said “no cops, no cops.”

Yesterday at 5pm, police escorted Tubtim to Suvarnabhumi Airport and sent her on her way back to Michigan, where FBI officials waited to take her into custody.

Big Joke said that after speaking with the accused and explaining the process she would face upon her return to the US, her levels of fear and shock were visibly reduced.

Tubtim admitted it was wrong to fly to Thailand when she did, said Big Joke.

Big Joke assured Tubtim that facing the US justice system was the best way to protect her rights as well as Thailand’s reputation.

The defendant faces charges such as a failure to stop at the scene of the crash and taking an interstate flight to avoid prosecution.

The US is one of 14 countries with an extradition treaty with Thailand.

Other countries with extradition treaties with Thailand include the UK, Canada, China, Belgium, The Philippines, Indonesia, Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia, South Korea, Bangladesh, Fiji, and Australia.

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Leah is a translator and news writer for the Thaiger. Leah studied East Asian Religions and Thai Studies at the University of Leeds and Chiang Mai University. Leah covers crime, politics, environment, human rights, entertainment, travel and culture in Thailand and southeast Asia.

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