Thai communities in Fresno county and Los Angeles are mounting pressure on the US local authorities to retrieve the bodies of two Thai postgraduate students died in a car crash two weeks ago in California.
They planned a protest in Fresno county, the scene of the car crash, on Monday (Aug 14) if the US authorities still do not expedite the retrieval of the bodies believed to stuck inside the car that plunged into the ravine.
They complained of the slow progress of the retrieval operation after families of the two students met Fresno county chief to escalate the operation.
The two postgraduate students Ms Thiwadee Saengsuriyarit, 24, and Mr Bhakapon Chairattanasongporn, 28, were driving on a highway on July 26 to Kings Canyon National Park when their rental car plunged off a 150-metre cliff and came to rest partially submerged in a river.
Meanwhile the Royal Thai Consulate-General in Los Angeles yesterday updated the retrieval operation on Facebook saying that on Aug 9, the consul-general and the students’ families met Michelle Steel, Supervisory Board of Orange County to request her to help coordinate with Fresno County Sheriff-Coroner’s Office urging to retrieve the missing students as it has been two weeks since the accident.
“Michelle Steel, being close to the Thai Community of Los Angeles and Thailand, has coordinated with Fresno County Sheriff-Coroner’s Office who is drafting a plan to rescue the missing students safely as its first priority and the car for later if the opportunity provided,” according to the Thai consulate.
“In this situation, Sheriff Coroner Margaret Mims has responded that the Fresno County Sheriff’s search and rescue team is well trained and professionals and the two Thai Students are their top priority. Even though the situation is difficult due to the terrain and the water current is in very fast pace, the team will try their best to rescue the missing students as safely and respectfully as possible.”
The Consulate has coordinated with Office of Mayor of Los Angeles and other local authorities for support from Thai Community of Los Angeles to urge the search and rescue team to act as soon as possible.
Also the students’ relatives gave an interview to the AP News that they were thinking of hiring a private rescuer if necessary to recover the bodies as it has been 15 days, the Thai consulate reported, adding that the Consulate has been informed that the Thai community in Los Angeles, Southern California, and San Francisco will organize a demonstration in Los Angeles and Fresno on Aug 14 if the rescue/recovery has not taken place by that time.