Second child dies from balcony fall as Swiss dad fights for full custody

On the night of April 30, the four siblings, aged 5 to 11, plunged four stories from their Ramkhamhaeng 34 apartment.

Chanida Borel, one of four Thai-Swiss children who fell from their Bangkok apartment’s balcony in late April while left unattended, died on Monday night. The 7-year-old girl was the second child to die from injuries sustained in the fall. Her brother Alex, 5, died on the day of the accident.

“My second baby didn’t make it … I’m sorry, Chanida. Rest in peace,” her father, Swiss national Marcel Borel, wrote in a text message sent to a Coconuts Bangkok reporter yesterday.

Borel, 50, who has lived in Thailand for 13 years, has maintained ever since the incident that a court gave he and their Thai mother, 36-year-old Rattikarn Prakaikaew, joint custody following their separation, despite the fact that they were not legally married.

While Coconuts has not seen documents proving the claim, his lawyer has claimed on several occasions to have them in his possession. Despite those ostensible visitation rights, the Swiss national says he has been prevented from seeing the children for the past three years.

For at least two of those children, the chance to be reunited is now gone forever.

On the night of April 30, the four siblings, aged 5 to 11, plunged four stories from their Ramkhamhaeng 34 apartment. According to their mother’s interview with local media that night, the eldest child, 11-year-old Didi, was washing dishes on the balcony at about 11pm when her younger siblings attempted to climb atop a piece of wood that had been screwed onto the balcony for use as a storage shelf.

The board then gave way as the children tried to pull each other up onto it, resulting in all of four of them falling.

Rattikarn said she had to work that night and so left the children in the care of her parents, who lived in the same building. However, the grandmother said she went back to her apartment after putting the children to bed.

The tragedy, compounded by Chanida’s death this week, has since seen an ugly custody battle taken public. It will finally see a courtroom on Aug. 1, according to Borel’s lawyer, Naddakorn Phonsanong.

“We’re collecting the evidence and witnesses to present to the court. The mother had run away with her children, and we’re suing to rid her of their custody,” Naddakorn told Coconuts yesterday.

In interview last week, Borel said that he wanted not only custody but for someone to be held legally responsible for the April tragedy.

“Because in France, you see on the news. The kid was on the balcony and he fell down,” he said of a recent story in which a stranger rescued a 4-year-old child who was dangling from a Paris balcony.

“Someone saved the kid. The father was playing Pokemon Go in the lounge. He’s going to jail. But here? No,” he said grimly.

“I want somebody to pay for what happened.”

Borel also says — counter to public claims by Rattikarn’s family of neglect and failure to provide child support — that he can provide a better future.

“I want the children to have Swiss passports, so they can receive money from the Swiss government. So they can travel and see my family. I live in a nice house. The school is not far. I want a better opportunity of them in this life,” Borel said, adding that he believed they were best served living for the next couple of months with professionals trained to help them cope with the psychological trauma.

Pol. Ratchanon Pengsamuen of the Hua Mark police department said today that no charges have been pressed against the mother or grandparents, and that police have yet to question Luca, who was discharged from the hospital one week ago.

Chanida, who died Monday night, had spent the past month in a coma. Few details about the injuries sustained by the two eldest children, Didi, 11, and Luca, 10, have been revealed to the public, though both have been released from the hospital and now live with their mother.

Chanida’s funeral will be held tonight at Chantangsaram Temple in Lat Phrao.

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