Elephant tragedy victim still in Phuket ICU

PHUKET: All but one of the people injured in the elephant tragedy in Khao Sok National Park on Tuesday have been released from hospital.

Christine Colomb of Switzerland remains in the ICU at Bangkok Phuket Hospital.

Mrs Colomb met with the Phuket Gazette briefly last night after conducting a telephone interview for the Swiss newspaper Blick.

Connected to several tubes to assist her breathing and help treat a punctured lung, the 45-year-old said she did not want her photograph to appear in the media as she was afraid it would have a negative effect on the three surviving children of her best friend, who was killed in the tragedy.

Mrs Colomb also declined to give the name of the friend, whom she described as her best friend for 25 years.

Mrs Colomb also wanted to clarify that her late friend was not the “companion” of the Englishman she was on the elephant with. They were only paired up by the mahouts for the trek, she said.

She holds no animosity towards the Siam Safari company that organized the tour, she said, adding that she had been a satisfied repeat customer of the operator for years.

Mrs Colomb said she expects to be released in two days.

She and her husband will have to postpone their return trip, originally scheduled for this weekend, until she is well enough to fly, she said.

Sean Gothe, who survived the ordeal with only minor injuries, told the Gazette last night that the Swiss woman told doctors to take her off a morphine drip that had been administered to reduce the pain caused by her 12 fractured ribs and punctured lung.

Mrs Colomb was afraid of developing an addiction to the opiate, Mr Gothe said after meeting with her for over an hour yesterday.

Mrs Colomb’s wounds were sustained when large tree branches hit her torso as the elephant fled in fear and were not deliberately inflicted by the animal, he explained.

Mrs Colomb’s husband Michel, 71, was earlier released from the hospital after treatment for injuries including lacerations to the head.

Mr Gothe’s wife Helen was released from the hospital late yesterday afternoon after three days of treatment. She will continue her recovery at the couple’s resort.

Mrs Gothe said she was recovering well. She seemed more interested in discussing the high number of road accidents she had witnessed during her stay in Thailand than her own injuries.

— Stephen Fein

Phuket News

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