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Phuket University Today to Face Music Over Running Death of Freshman

News conference set to let Phuket Rajabhat get its story straight on whether teen was hazed or not

Phornphiphat Eaddam Phuket Rajabhat University

A Phuket university today will try to get its story straight on exactly how a freshman cheerleader died while running on Wednesday.

Phornphiphat Eaddam, 19, collapsed while doing laps before cheerleading practice at Phuket Rajabhat University in what was described as a seizure. Her slumped body was stuck between two the driver and another pillion passenger on a motorbike and driven 16 minutes to Vachira Phuket Hospital.

Her heart had stopped during the drive and she was pronounced dead in the hospital’s intensive-care unit.

That much is undisputed. In fact, it’s the only thing that not.

Thai- and English-language blanketed the the airwaves and interwebs Friday with reports that the first-year student had died as a result of freshman hazing. Others said it was due to bullying by a senior student. Some reports had her running seven, one-kilometer laps around an old mine – not explaining why an old mine would be in the middle of a Phuket school campus – while others had it as five laps around a volleyball court.

Even university officials couldn’t get his facts straight. In one breath he stated that no organized student activities are allowed to be organized due to coronavirus-prevention measures. In the next he said it was an organized sporting activity overseen by faculty.

What university President Hiran Prasarnkarn did insist on Friday evening, however, was that the teenagers death was not due to hazing. And that he’d be back to talk to the media on Saturday to provide the complete details.

In his media briefing, Hiran adamantly stated that Phornphiphat collapsed while she and other women were running a five-lap warmup around the volleyball court before practice for a cheerleading competition.

Phuket Rajabhat University Vice President Noppadon Chanrawang said contest to be held next month was part of a faculty sports activity. Faculty dean Theerapong Noochaikaew, also at the briefing, said senior students and lecturers supervised the activity.

The woman’s father insisted their daughter had no pre-existing health conditions. The family filed a police complaint but not to prosecute the university, but to ensure it releases all the facts.

Hiran said the university has already paid out 100,000 baht as initial compensation and has launched an investigation by a panel of academics, administrators and lawyers.