Lampang mourns doctor who drowned trying save tourists


NORTHERN Lampang province plunged into mourning for Dr. Surasit Ponglaohaphan, or Mor Toh, who drowned while trying to save tourists struggling in the sea at Phuket’s Kata Noi beach, said today (July 16).

Lifeguards too swam out to save the lives of seven people drowning in the stormy sea on Thursday July 14 and safely rescued five of them. Two others, British honeymooner Ali Mohammed Mian, 33, and Dr. Surasit, 55, were brought ashore unconscious and in critical condition. They were given first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) before being taken to the hospital but died along the way.

It was later reported that Dr. Surasit, a specialist in social medicine at Lampang Hospital, did not go swimming in the choppy sea as the others had done in violation of red flags put up along the beach forbidding people from doing so.

However while he was relaxing on the beach he saw strong waves crashing on the tourists and swam out to save their lives and in doing so himself drowned.

Dr. Surasit has donated his body to Chiang Mai University’s Faculty of Medicine. His funeral is being held at  Wat Suan Dok in Lampang’s Mueang district today. Lampang Hospital will hold prayers for him tomorrow.

Thai social media is full of praise for the sacrifice made by Mor Toh. He was well-known in Lampang with the people there having given him another nickname, that is Doctor Running, because he jogged regularly and was also the president of Lampang Hospital’s jogging club.


Dr. Surasit Ponglaohaphan, or Mor Toh, giving the peace sign. The Thai headline says, “Hero doctor.” Photo:

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