Speeding car kills sleeping policeman

PHOTO: The Nation/ANN

Thai-english actress and model Anna Hamblaouris, 28, faces two charges after her Mercedes Benz slammed into a police car and killed a police officer early yesterday.

Pol Sub Lieutenant Napadol Wongbunndit, 44, died while asleep inside his police car parked on a Bangkok road.

A Suphan Buri-based, Napadol had contacted his wife earlier to say he had lost his way and was going to take a nap in the car before heading home. He was in the capital to run some errands.

The accident occurred at about 3am on the inbound motorway in Bangkok's Prawet district. The actress, who is better known as Anna Reese, sustained minor injuries and now faces charges of reckless driving causing death and escaping arrest.

The police who did not immediately arrest Anna at the scene - allowing her to leave with relatives - will face investigation, Prawet Police Station superintendent Pol Colonel Metha Jeamkraisri said.

Witnesses said the actress was crying uncontrollably, clinging to Napadol's body and yelling: "I am not fleeing. I will take responsibility."

Pol Major Somchai Saraket of Prawet Police, who rushed to the scene, said Anna had looked so shocked she could not give testimony at that time and her relatives had showed up and asked permission for her to testify later.

Later in the day, Anna co-operated with police to undergo tests to determine if she was on drugs or alcohol. Tests showed no signs of drug abuse, but it will take about a week to determine if she had consumed alcohol.

After calming down, she explained to police that she had gone out in the wee hours because she was hungry. "I think my car might have been going at a speed of over 100km per hour when a motorcycle cut in front. I tried to avoid the motorcycle, but ended up running into another car instead," she said.

Tassapong Phonpho, a security guard working at a showroom near the scene of the crash, provided matching information.

He said he saw a Benz and a big bike moving on the road at high speed before he heard the bike slow down and then a big bang. He added that he rushed out after hearing the big crash and only found two cars on the road. There was no sign of the bike.

Anna said she was very sad about the incident and was ready to compensate the victim's family. She also said she was planning to go on a religious retreat and make merit for the victim. She has been granted temporary release.

The late police officer's widow, Chantana Wongbundit, 42, said she could not cope with her husband's sudden death. "I'd only just spoken to him," she said, describing her husband as a very good man, who was well loved by his colleagues and supervisor.

Napadol is survived by his wife and two daughters aged eight and 11.

"I would like to urge motorists to drive carefully, or else you might deprive other people of their beloved ones," Chantana said.