Dr Yorn Chiranakhon, a senior official at the Public Health Ministry, was yesterday charged with drunk driving and attempted murder after his car hit a security guard and dragged him for 20 metres inside the ministry compound in Nonthaburi’s Muang district last Friday.
A video clip of the incident went viral on the Internet on Monday.
After he surrendered to police, Yorn was charged with reckless driving causing serious injury, driving while being intoxicated and attempted murder.
Deputy national police chief Pol General Weerachai Songmetta said after Yorn’s interrogation that the attempted murder charge was filed because he stopped his vehicle for 25 seconds after initially hitting the guard, before moving forward, running over him and dragging him for 20 metres.
He said Yorn confessed to reckless driving but denied the other charges. Police said they were confident on all the charges based on evidence collected, including CCTV footage and the testimony of witnesses, Weerachai said.
Public Health Ministry spokeswoman Dr Panpimol Wipulakorn said yesterday that a fact-finding committee had been set up to look into the incident, to ensure justice for both sides and provide assistance to the seriously injured guard Somchai Yamdee, 22, and his family.
She said the ministry would also trim trees and bushes in the area and install lighting at all gates in the compound to reduce the risk of accidents, particularly at the Bamrasnaradura Infectious Diseases Institute gate, the scene of the incident.
Somchai, who has undergone two brain operations since the incident, was in stable condition at Phra Nangkalo Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit.
Hospital deputy director Dr Sakol Sukphrom said Somchai had responded well to treatment and was able to raise a hand and leg and raise two fingers. His vital signs were normal, although he still depended on a respirator and had a fever.
Somchai was entitled to free medical treatment for the first 72 hours after the emergency, Sakol said. Yorn and the ministry had stated it would cover Somchai’s medical expenses and pay compensation.
Officials from the Rights and Liberties Protection Department visited Somchai in hospital yesterday to check on his recovery and said they would provide aid in line with the law. Public Health Minister Dr Piyasakol Sakolsatayadorn yesterday said Yorn had already expressed responsibility for the incident, adding that people should let justice run its course.
Asked whether a disciplinary committee would be set up to investigate Yorn, Piyasakol said the ministry would have to discuss the matter before making a decision because the incident reportedly took place outside office hours. However, he said that he had instructed officials to ensure the culprit is punished.
On Monday, Panpimol also said the ministry would wait for the results of the police investigation before deciding whether to set up a disciplinary probe against Yorn to avoid redundancy.
Dr Taejing Siripanich, secretary-general of the Don’t Drive Drunk Foundation, urged Piyasakol to set up a disciplinary probe against Yorn in parallel with the police probe, as the alleged drunk driving charge by a ministry official was “worse than a sexual harassment accusation”.
The ministry has recently been implicated in a serious sexual harassment case.