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Aussie teen latest jet-ski casualty

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PATONG: An Australian teenager was critically injured on Wednesday afternoon when his rented jet-ski was in collision with another jet-ski operated by a friend.

Both men were rushed to Patong Hospital after the crash, which happened at the south end of the beach at about 4 pm.

Pol Maj Sophon Borrirak of Kathu Police said 19-year-old Antonio Scognamigli, was rushed unconscious to the Patong Hospital. His heart stopped, but doctors managed to revive him. He was later transferred to Bangkok Hospital Phuket, where he is still undergoing treatment.

The operator of the other jet-ski, 20-year-old William Forest, also of Australia, told police he had come to Phuket on holiday with Mr Scognamigli. Police said he admitted to being responsible for the crash, explaining that he was just “horsing around” with his friend when he approached with his jet-ski at high speed.

It was not revealed whether either man had been drinking.

After his release from Patong Hospital for treatment of minor injuries, Forest was arrested and charged with negligence causing grievous bodily harm. If found guilty, he could face imprisonment of up to three years or a fine of up to 6,000 baht, or both. He was later released on bail.

Meanwhile, Patong Deputy Mayor Chairat Sukbal said that, with the high-season now here, Patong Municipality is in the process of organizing zones along the beach restricting where jet-skis will be allowed to operate.

The municipality will also issue orders to control jet-ski rental outfits whose activities have long been a leading source of complaint among tourists to Patong.

The jet-ski operators have long ignored regulations limiting their activities to the southern end of the beach, and previous attempts to crack down on them all fizzled out.

In the 2003-2004 high season two tourists died in jet-ski accidents. One was a 13-year-old German boy, whose mother begged authorities to protect children and juveniles by enforcing jet-ski safety regulations.

Despite a provincial plan to phase out jet-skis over a seven-year period, Patong will host an international jet-ski ski race December 10 and 11.

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