Footage of the moment a loose elephant runs wildly in a river before running into a tourist’s raft and overturning it and injuring one person, has gone viral and turned into a cautionary tale today.
Dechathorn Sastradechawat, the 38-year-old van driver who filmed the clip and shared the harrowing experience on his Facebook page at the beginning of this month, told local media today that he was hired by a group of Bangkok tourists to take them rafting along a river in Chiang Mai’s Mae Wang District during the day of the incident.
Dechathorn volunteered to take photos for the group that day, reported Sanook, without any inkling of just how dramatic his job was going to turn out to be.
While the group was happily floating along, an elephant suddenly started running towards them and hit the raft, knocking everyone on board in different directions.
The panicked group scurried to shore before a mahout was able to get a hold of the elephant.
“We were so close to death,” Dechathorn captions in his Facebook video of the incident.
One woman sustained an injury from hitting her leg against a rock and was unable to move it, reported PPTV. She was immediately transported to the hospital.
Kessarin Toonkaew, president of the Mae Win Subdistrict Administrative Organization, interviewed the owner of the six-year-old elephant, named Pangchailai, who was playing around in the water nearby prior to the incident.
Kessarin claims that the elephant was likely just trying to play with the tourists, as the animal oftenly does, since Pangchailai is very intelligent and had never exhibited aggressive or naughty behavior before.
The loud noises coming from the tourists might have excited or startled the creature, she added.
The Mae Win Subdistrict Administrative Organization — which oversees tourism in the area — had ordered for signs to be placed along the river to remind tourists not to be loud or scare the elephant in the roughly 10 farms in the area.
As of press time, the owner of the elephant has apologized to the tourists and paid for the injured party’s hospital bills.
Dechathorn stated that he did not intend to cause any harm to anyone or their business with his clip but simply wanted it to serve as a cautionary tale.