Connect with us


Corpse confusion: mix-up in Phuket morgue

Legacy Phuket Gazette



Corpse confusion: mix-up in Phuket morgue | Thaiger

PHUKET: Mourners at the funeral of a British man in Chalong were shocked to discover that the corpse handed over to them by staff at Vachira Phuket Hospital was not his, but that of an unidentified Westerner.

William John “Bill” Young, 61, of Ipswich, England, passed away in his sleep on Friday, September 3, a friend told the Gazette.

Friends of Mr Young, who was a well-known and experienced marine engineer living in Chalong, went to Vachira Phuket Hospital with his widow on Tuesday to retrieve the body for the funeral ceremony, a friend said.

At the Vachira morgue, the group were taken to a body on a gurney in the reception area and told by staff that it was Mr Young.

One friend of 20 years said that as they pulled back the sheet, “I was shocked to see my old friend looking so bad, even for a dead bloke. He looked unrecognizable – much thinner.”

Their suspicions were assuaged by Vachira staff, who assured them that the “unrecognizable” body on the gurney was indeed that of their friend.

Another cause for concern arose when a staff member gave them a bag said to contain Bill’s belongings. They were not his things, the friend said.

Saying they would find his belongings later, staff loaded “Bill” into a coffin. The remains were taken to Wat Lati Wanaram in Chalong for his scheduled funeral service.

After they arrived, the coffin lid was taken off for photographs. The mourners, immediately surprised by the condition and appearance of the body, began to question whether or not it really was that of their friend Mr Young.

Many theories were put forward, but the prevailing sentiment was that the body was not that of Mr Young.

The family of Mr Young’s wife removed the bracelet on the body and discovered that it listed the identify of the deceased as “unknown”, with an estimated age of 35.

By that point, the monks were already chanting as word spread that the body was not Mr Young’s.

A friend called Chalong police to report the incident.

Shortly thereafter they received a call from Vachira Hospital confirming their suspicions: they had been given the wrong body.

They were asked by Vachira to bring the body back to the mortuary, where they could “swap” it for the real remains of their departed friend.

The friend said, “Some people were angry and others were laughing. Bill would have said, ‘I’m not surprised, are you?’ – and we were not.”

The unidentified body was loaded into a private vehicle and taken back to Vachira Hospital, where hospital staff apologized wholeheartedly for the mix-up, the friend said.

Dr Weerawat Yorsaengrat, deputy director of Vachira Phuket Hospital told the Gazette, “We admitted it was our mistake and rushed to prepare the body [Mr Young’s] for them to pick up before nightfall. In Thai culture it’s considered bad to take a body out at night.

His wife came to pick up the body. She understood the mistake and even thanked us for hurrying to send the body out. Vachira Hospital apologizes to the family for this mistake,” Dr Weerawat said.

After retrieving the correct body, friends and family of Mr Young took his remains to the temple, where the cremation ceremony took place Wednesday afternoon.

Mr Young arrived on Phuket in 1991, working with a Norwegian tour boat company. He was well-known in Chalong, where he was often consulted for his expertise in marine engineering.

He is survived by his wife of five years, his friend said.

In response to questions about the unidentified body, Dr Weerawat told the Gazette that such mix-ups most often occur in cases when unidentified bodies are brought to the hospital by police.

It is normal for the Vachira morgue to house the remains of at least one unidentified Caucasian foreigner, he said.

— N. Altstadt & S. Nongkaew


Get more from The Thaiger

📱 Download our app on Android or iOS
👋 Have your say on our Thailand forums
🔔 Subscribe to our daily email newsletter
📺 Subscribe / Join YouTube for daily shows
👍 Like/Follow us on Facebook
🐦 FOLLOW us on Twitter
📷 FOLLOW us on Instagram


Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Follow Thaiger by email:

Insurgency29 mins ago

Volunteer ranger killed in grenade attack by suspected insurgents

Best of44 mins ago

Top 5 Spas in Koh Samui

Thailand52 mins ago

Hemp ice cream hits the Thai market

Welcome back to Thailand!

Thaiger is getting behind local businesses for the restart of tourism in Thailand - up to 50% discounts across all advertising packages!

Chon Buri1 hour ago

Chon Buri sets local order, restaurants in malls to only offer food for delivery

Thailand1 hour ago

Samut Prakan man dies in fire, possibly self-inflicted

Thailand2 hours ago

Royal Thai Police say bitterleaf can’t cure Covid

Join the conversation on the Thaiger Talk forums today!
Coronavirus (Covid-19)3 hours ago

Tuesday Covid Update: 18,901 new cases, provincial totals

Thailand3 hours ago

Air Asia technician arrested for allegedly stealing electronics

Pattaya3 hours ago

“Pattaya Move On” reopening likely to be postponed as Covid cases surge

Thailand4 hours ago

3 metre long python caught near family’s house in Phuket

Thailand5 hours ago

Government says not to buy Favipiravir/Avigan online, says it might be fake

Phuket5 hours ago

Phuket bans alcohol sales at restaurants, issues order amid rise of Covid cases

Best of5 hours ago

Top 5 Mexican restaurants in Pattaya

Thailand6 hours ago

Good Morning Thailand | New restrictions, new Red Line train in Bangkok, Covid latest

Thailand6 hours ago

Ministry of Public Health says Pfizer vaccine will be allocated correctly, others disagree

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism5 months ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism5 months ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism5 months ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand6 months ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Southern floods, Face mask fines, Thai Air Asia woes | January 8