Thai authorities charge Red Bull heir with drunken driving

Bangkok: Thai police on Thursday added drunken driving to the charges filed against a Red Bull energy drink heir accused of killing a police officer while speeding in his Ferrari and fleeing the scene.

Tests taken in the hours after Monday's crash showed 27-year-old Vorayuth Yoovidhaya's blood-alcohol content was 0.063 percent, exceeding the legal limit of 0.05, said Police Lt. Col. Wiradon Tubtimdee.

The findings could result in a stiffer penalty if Vorayuth is convicted. He was originally charged with causing death by reckless driving and escaping an arrest.

Vorayuth's lawyer has said his client was not drinking before the accident.

"I understand that after the crash and his surrender, Boss drank that night to relieve his tenseness ... but he did not drink before the incident happened," family lawyer Samak Chaowapanant told the Bangkok Post, referring to Vorayuth by a nickname.

Vorayuth Yoovidhaya.

Police said Vorayuth admitted he was driving the Ferrari that struck the officer's motorcycle but said the officer swerved in front of his vehicle.

Witnesses said the Ferrari dragged the officer's body down the road before speeding away, but police followed oil streaks at the crash site into the gated estate of late Red Bull founder Chaleo Yoovidhya, one of Thailand's wealthiest men before he died this year. The sports car had a badly dented bumper, scuffed hood and cracked windshield.

Forensic science investigators attempted to calculate the speed of the Ferrari using footage obtained from nearby closed-circuit cameras that showed the vehicle coming on Bangkok's Sukhumvit Road before it crashed with the motorcycle.

"We will need more footage at different spots to be more precise, but right now it's certain that the car was coming at more than 100 kilometers (62 miles) per hour," said Sathon Vijarnwannaluk, a forensic expert on the investigation team.

Bangkok police commissioner Comronwit Toopgrajank on Thursday expelled a local police superintendent who attempted to cover up the crime by turning in the family's driver, instead of Vorayuth.

The Yoovidhya family was ranked the fourth richest in Thailand this year by Forbes magazine with a net worth of $5.4 billion. They own a wide range of businesses, including shares in the energy drink brand, hospitals, real estate and a sole authorized importer of Ferrari cars in Thailand.


Updated Date: Sep 06, 2012 17:50 PM

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