U.S. releases video of difficult recovery operation of two Thai students

The Fresno County Sheriff Office in California has released a video clip showing stages of the operation to retrieve the bodies of two Thai university students, who died after their car plunged off a cliff into the Kings River on July 26.

The operation, which took place on Sept. 1, was described by the office as the “first of its kind” in 26 years. It took a total of eight hours for their Search and Rescue (SAR) team and the California Highway Patrol’s Air Support Unit to successfully move the car and remove two bodies from it.

The victims were Pakkapol “Golf” Chairattanasongporn, 28, and Thiwadee “Min” Saengsuriyarit, 24. They were students of the University of South Florida, who were traveling together to the Kings Canyon National Park.

Fast-moving water had kept the team from rescuing the two students until Sept. 1.

The video was posted with this summary of the operation: “One of our SAR deputies made his way out to the car and secured it by attaching a cable to the car from a device called a Griphoist, which is basically a manual winch system. Deputies on the side of the river tethered the Griphoist to a rock and then slowly ratcheted it, pulling it a short distance into slower moving water. This made conditions much safer for deputies to access the car.”

“The team then used tools to get inside the car and were able to free both bodies. Deputies hoisted each body up to the crew aboard H40 and they flew the bodies to the roadside where a coroner transportation unit was stationed. Family members have since taken possession of the bodies and held memorial “

On Sept. 9, the families of Min and Golf had cremation ceremonies at Piman Thai , a Thai funeral home in Los Angeles who provided the services free of charge.

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