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Classmate Charged in Running Death of Phuket Cheerleader

University also may face prosecution while family mulls civil suit

Pornpipat “Mint” Iaddum
Pornpipat “Mint” Iaddum (Photo: Facebook)

Police on Monday charged a Phuket Rajabhat University sophomore with faal recklessness in the running death of a 19-year-old woman last week.

The female second-year student was blamed for making 19-year-old Pornpipat “Mint” Iaddum to run eight laps around a parking lot as punishment for making errors in a cheerleading dance routine Aug. 19. The lot is about 400 meters long.

Police did not name the suspect, but she was identified online as Rawinnipha or “Prae”, which Phuket police confirmed.

Police said Rawinnipha confessed to the charges, but said three other upperclassmen participated in supervising the practice. Investigators, however, said there was not enough evidence to charge the others.

According to an autopsy report released Monday, Pornpipat died of heart failure and a lack of oxygen to the brain for 16 minutes.

According to an autopsy report, Pornpipat died from heart failure, lack of oxygen to the brain for 16 minutes and haemorrhaging in the lungs.

More charges could be coming. Deputy national police chief Gen. Suchart Theerasawat flew to Phuket today to instruct Phuket investigators to hold everyone responsible in the events that led to the woman’s death accountable. He met with top Phuket police and administrators at the Rajabhat campus.

A Phuket police spokesman said the investigation against the school is continuing and Pornpipat’s family is said to be considering a civil suit against Pornpipat’s classmates running the activity.

University officials have remained adamant that the freshman did not die as a result of hazing by upperclassmen. She was not singled out for any psychological or physical punishment, an account backed up by a classmate who also was forced to run laps.

In an interview with the Phuket News, the teenager, whose identity was protected, said 11 freshmen were learning a new dance routine from an upperclassman, presumed to be Rawinnipha, the suspect charged. All the first-year students were told that if they made mistakes during the practice, they would have to run eight laps around the parking lot.

According to the unnamed participant, several students blew their routines and were made to run. She added that before the 7 p.m. run all the freshmen were given a chance to rest. Although Pornpipat was “exhausted”, she didn’t take a break and started to run, she told the News.

Pornpipat collapsed on the seventh lap around 7:30 p.m. Emergency services were called, but could not arrive in time and instructed someone to start CPR. Finally, two students put Pornpipat on a motorbike between them and drove the 16 minutes to Vachira Phuket Hospital, where she was pronounced dead after midnight.