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Australian jet-ski victim’s partner awaits trial in Phuket



PHUKET: The partner of a 20-year-old Australian woman who was killed in a jet-ski collision with him at Kata Beach on Sunday, is expected to be charged with reckless driving causing death and is awaiting trial in Phuket.

Thomas Keating, 22, and his partner Emily Jayne Collie, 20, came to Phuket for a holiday and had rented jet-skis to ride from Karon Beach to Kata Beach. They reportedly collided with one another, causing Ms Collie to suffer severe injuries to her head, neck and shoulders (story here).

Mr Keating suffered minor injuries. The Australian embassy was informed of Ms Collie’s death and her family arrived in Phuket yesterday to repatriate her body back home.

“Mr Keating paid for Ms Collie’s family to travel to Phuket, as well as all the expenses of attending to and shipping her body,” said Karon Superintendent Col Sanya Thongsawad.

Ms Collie’s family is entitled to 50,000 baht (about AU$1,287) under an insurance policy taken out for the couple’s jet-ski rental.

Her parents, Ian and Sally Collie, said in a statement that they did not believe Mr Keating was at fault in the jet-ski crash, reports Australian news agency The Age.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade circulated the statement on behalf of the family last night.

“We are in the midst of grieving through the sudden loss of our precious daughter Emily,” the statement read.

“This was a tragic accident. We do not believe anyone was at fault. In particular, we do not place any blame on Tom Keating, who we care about very much and who we know loved Emily deeply.

“We are all heartbroken beyond words, and at this extremely sad time, we wish to be together with our family, with Tom, and with other loved ones, to grieve and celebrate Emily’s life.”

They are now waiting for the embassy to process the documents that will allow them to return home with her body, while Mr Keating is required to remain in Thailand for at least a month while awaiting a court case verdict to determine whether he will be convicted or not.

Officials believe the accident was caused by the couple’s ‘reckless behavior’, but jet-ski rental operators have been under public fire for at least 20 years in Phuket due to numerous deaths, injuries, legendary scams and brutish local operator behavior.

Despite the volume of complaints from tourists, local residents and hotel managers, there has been no success in shutting down the jet-skis – or even in curtailing, or simply regulating, their use on Phuket’s beaches.

Marine Office Chief Surat Siriasaiyas said that his office is working closely with the marine police and navy to keep a closer eye on jet-ski operations in Phuket, which is the standard marine department statement following all jet-ski tragedies here.

“At this stage, we have found no illegal jet-skis in Phuket. However, we will call in the jet-ski club members and president to talk further about safety measures, including warning tourists about reckless driving,” said Mr Surat.

“Accidents happen due to reckless behavior. We will try to promote safety and ensure that tourists follow it. The same goes for jet-ski operators; we will track them to see whether they are legally registered and have valid insurance,” he added.

— Kongleaphy Keam


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