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Michael Doyle (left) and Darren Hellmann: want to warn others

Aussies in Jet-Ski Dispute Accuse Officer

Monday, July 7, 2014
PHUKET: A jet-ski operator at Patong demanded 150,000 baht in a dispute with a group of holidaying Australians after a crash that left one young woman with a broken wrist, Phuketwan learned today.

Allegations that a Tourist Police officer aided the jet-ski operators to try to scam the group are also being made by the Australians, who have since left Phuket.

News of last week's dispute comes with the military authorities banning commercial activities from Phuket beaches and looking at the future of jet-skis, which were supposed to be phased out from Phuket's beaches years ago.

Melbourne resident Darren Hellmann and his wife Maxine were celebrating their 50th birthdays on Phuket with a group of 26 friends from their home city, Britain, New Zealand and Perth when the jet-ski crash almost caused a tragedy.

They'd hired nine jet-skis at Phuket's popular Patong beach on Tuesday and returned on Wednesday to hire five more.

The Hellmann's daughters Alana, 18, and Mikayla, 15, were riding one jet-ski that collided almost head-on with another jet-ski ridden by family friend Michael Doyle.

''Alana was at the controls and I think she just accelerated into the other jet-ski, just by mistake,'' Mr Hellmann said.

''The automatic band that switches the jet-ski off was hooked around the handle bars so she was left hanging on the jet-ski and broke her wrist.

''There was a large hole in the front of the jet-ski and if it had taken water and gone down, she would have been in serious trouble.''

As the Australians helped injured Alana and her badly bruised sister back to shore, the jet-ski operator who owned both machines was only concerned about the vehicles, Mr Hellmann said today from Singapore.

''Their priorities were a bit different to ours,'' Mr Hellmann said.

He helped his two daughters onto beach beds and organised transportation to Patong Hospital as Michael Doyle faced the jet-ski group.

''We all accepted responsibility and did not shy away from it,'' Mr Hellmann said. ''Alana's wrist was broken and Mikayla couldn't stand up.''

When Mr Hellmann rejoined the group at the local police station, he said, ''It was obvious we were being stitched up.''

The jet-ski operator originally demanded 150,000 baht for the damage.

A Tourist Police officer handled all the negotiations, even though the Australians gained the impression that the jet-ski operator spoke good English.

''There was obviously something shifty going on,'' Mr Hellmann said.

''We were given a well-scripted story by the officer and at one stage, he even threatened to fine Mick and I 3000 baht each.''

The Australians offered 35,000 baht in compensation, but the offer was turned down by the Tourist Police officer without reference to the jet-ski owner.

In talks that lasted for three-and-a-half hours, agreement was eventually reached on 43,000 baht being paid for the damage - well south of the original claim of 150,000 baht, and a subsequent claim of 71,000 baht.

''We actually had a ball on Phuket for the whole week we were there but the jet-ski dispute was a low point,'' Mr Hellmann said.

''Alana is likely to miss her netball finals and will take time off work.

''But the jet-ski operators wouldn't take responsibility for the failure of the jet-ski's safety release. That could have been much worse.''

The Australians continue to harbor the suspicion that the Tourist Police officer was in on the attempted shakedown.

''He was the only person who said anything on behalf of the operator,'' Mr Hellmann said.

''If we hadn't been around a bit and we were new to Phuket, some unlucky person could have been ripped off for a much larger amount. Blowed if we were going to get shafted.

''We stood our ground and threatened to take them to court.''

Mr Hellmann said he believed jet-ski disputes still occurred fairly often. ''There was another dispute taking place at the police station while we were there,'' he said.

Partial compulsory insurance does not cover the entire cost.

Often, disputes in Patong are about claims for an additional payment - usually 16,000 baht - to cover the time that the jet-skis might be out of the water, being repaired.

A third Hellmann daughter, Monique, 22, rode a jet-ski at Patong beach the previous day but wasn't there when her sisters crashed.

The Hellmann family comes from Tarneit in outer Melbourne while Mr Doyle lives nearby in Hopper's Crossing.


Comments have been disabled for this article.


I thought the army were clearing all of Phuket's beaches, ban they and problem solved.

Posted by Anonymous on July 7, 2014 11:39


Not much for you!

Posted by Luay on July 7, 2014 11:40


hey guys what can we do to get these crooks off Phuket's beaches? they were supposed to be phased out years ago and the scams and rip offs continues despite many attempts to bring them up to standards? they should be banned outright along with the other illegal business encroaching on beaches. Now is the time! they are clearly an illegal operation and are involved ( along with the taxi tuktuk mafia) with tarnishing the reputation of Phuket AND Thailand in general. Mr General PLEASE PLEASE for the sake of Phuket's future ban these guys forever! they have had enough chances at reform....they are not interested.

Posted by Tom on July 7, 2014 12:59


Ministry of Tourism & Sports should make compulsory that all jet-ski and para-sailing operators to be registered with the TAT with full insurance for their customers in case of boat accident as it is done for tour and diving businesses as well to have a TAT registered guide in charge to provide all information to tourists with all hazard risks to drive a jet-ski without having a boat driving licence (Compulsory by the Thai law) as well to do para-sailing without proper training and personal protection.

Harbour Department forgot a key point at all meetings about jet-ski operators by not mentioning that a boat driver's license IS REQUIRED to drive jet-skis.

In Thailand, there is no marine training center in the Andaman Sea and the 2 marine training centers are in Samut Prakan (Government) and Pattaya (Private School).

Therefore, all boat captains have no choice but to work one year at least with a boat operator company and to be eligible to apply to get a helmsman boat licence by complacency without proper training in marine regulation, safety and rescue.

Boat operators in Thailand along the Andaman Sea would be happy to have a marine training center to get better skilled boat crews.

MERCHANT MARINE TRAINING CENTRE - 120 Moo 7, Soi Tessaban 6, Sukhumvit Road, Bangduan, Samut Prakan 10270 THAILAND Tel: 02 756 49 71/80 Website: FaceBook:

Chonburi 20230 THAILAND Tel: 038 042 011 Mobile: 086 377 71 98 Email: Website: Facebook:

Posted by Whistle-Blower on July 7, 2014 13:35


I hope the Army will take care of these crooks

Posted by Anonymous on July 7, 2014 15:07


Apart from the fact that jet skis should be banned, these are dangerous machines, possibly as much or more than motor cycles. Why would any sane person allow teenagers to ride them? They need proper training just as much as any road vehicle - possible even a license would be a good idea. Anyway, hopefully they will be banned as most people want, then problem solved.

It is not clear whether the tourist policeman was Thai or farang. I suspect Thai. Farangs have a name badge on their uniform. Not sure but I think Thais have an I.D. number in which case it should have been noted & reported. This is the sort of corruption that the military is targeting & keen to stop.

Posted by Logic on July 7, 2014 16:43


I witness 5 Australian men carrying the woman on a bed to a waiting mini bus, There was no help from the jet Ski people.

Posted by Dobby on July 7, 2014 19:05


why do people jump on a plane and do no research on the place there visiting a cursory research would reveal jet skis on top of the list as bad news avoid totally, what a regrettable and expensive experience.

Posted by slickmelb on July 8, 2014 11:05


Another problem with a kid who can't control a jetski or motorbike.

Posted by FS on July 8, 2014 12:09


With the extensive, negative, publicity over a long period of time I am somewhat surprised folk continue to even consider hiring a jet-ski.

Posted by Tassie Norm on July 21, 2014 15:25


What happened to the so called Tourist Court? If that's still operating, there is no reason for any discussions of damage at the police station.

Posted by Robert on July 21, 2014 18:36

Editor Comment:

The court is for criminal cases, not mediation.


The jet ski operators are crooks. Seen it many times, but in this particular case I think they might not be. If there is a hole in the front of the jet ski its going to be expensive to repair, and also the damage reduces the resale value significantly. In addition you have to consider loss of income from the ski being at the shop for a couple of days (curing the resin). 150K might be a bit steep, but not insanely. It was also her own fault that the emergency stop band was tangled on the handle, how daft not to check that before you set of. That not only puts yourself, but also others in danger. As to letting a child driving a powerful jet-ski... thats just bad parenting. You would not let your child set of on a large motorbike would you ?

Posted by Anonymous on July 26, 2014 17:20

Thursday June 20, 2024
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa


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