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Jill St Onge and Ryan Kells: he says they were in love and seldom argued

Dead Tourist 'Pushed off Phi Phi': Boyfriend

Thursday, May 7, 2009
CONFLICTING accounts surfaced today about what happened in the final hours before two women tourists died on the holiday island of Phi Phi over the weekend.

American Ryan Kells said he was bundled off the island in a speed boat with the body of his fiancee after her sudden death.

He spoke to Phuketwan by telephone from Bangkok a couple of hours before the body of his girlfriend, Jill Sheree St Onge, 27, was due to be cremated.

''I felt like they were trying to brush us off,'' he said of the trip that cost him $250, with Miss St Onge's body in a bodybag in the bottom of the boat. ''They wanted it all to go away.''

Miss St Onge fell sick at a local guest house and died within hours. In the next room, a Norwegian woman, Julie Michelle Bergheim, 22, also fell sick and died in similar fashion.

The cause of both deaths remains a mystery.

Locals at Laleena Guesthouse today were suggesting that the American couple had argued on Saturday night, not long before Miss St Onge fell sick.

But Mr Kells said: ''Absolutely not.''

''We spent the whole day having a great time. They must have seen some other couple arguing.

''We had a pizza for dinner on the beach and a conversation about what we were going to do together with the next two years of our lives.

''Jill was talking about coming to teach in Thailand.

''Jill and I hardly ever argued. We'd been together for five years and just two months ago, on our trip, I proposed to her.''

Mr Kells said Miss St Onge had been feeling unwell and had had no alcohol to drink before her death.

A doctor on the island had suggested that a popular ''Bucket'' drink, alcohol and fruit juice mixed with Red Bull, might be the common denominator in the two deaths, and the illness of a third woman who was with the dead Norwegian.

The doctor's opinion was ''based on hearsay,'' he said.

''Jill hated Red Bull and we are 27, not 19 and out for drinking fun,'' Mr Kells added.

He was unimpressed with the standard of treatment Miss St Onge received at the local hospital, where she died, and he remains keen to find out precisely what caused his fiancee's death.

''They did not appear to know how to perform cpr,'' he said. Mr Kells published his own account of events on an online blog soon after the death of Miss St Onge.

''I want people to know what happened,'' he said.

Mr Kells said he was struck by the chemical smell when he and Miss St Onge checked in and went to their room on Saturday.

''It was our first air-conditioned room for about a month,'' he said. ''I felt that whatever that smell was, it was some kind of gas.''

He went in and out of the room to an Internet cafe and for food while Miss Onge stayed in the room, and fell sick.

''I feel that whatever was in the room was what she succumbed to,'' Mr Kells said.

''I find it highly coincidentally that the woman in the next room died in the same way. We were in Room 4, they were in Room 5.''

Mr Kells' parents have joined him in Bangkok. After this afternoon's cremation, he plans to take Miss St Onge's ashes back to her family in the US.

The couple lived in Seattle, on the west coast, although both grew up in California.

Mr Kells wants people to know what happened, and to have the cause of the two deaths revealed as soon as possible.

''They (the island authorities) wanted to get us away from the island as fast as possible,'' he said.

He said the speedboat broke down during the nightmare trip back to Phuket and it took 45 minutes to repair.

Transporting he and the body to Bangkok, the autopsy, which took place yesterday, and today's cremation have cost him US$2500.

''Two deaths in one day . . . it shouldn't happen to anyone,'' he said. ''I want to make sure it does not happen again.''

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Phi Phi Deaths: No Word on What Killed Women
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Phi Phi 'Poisoning' Kills Two Tourists
Update A case of apparent poisoning on Phi Phi has left two young women dead, a Norwegian and an American. A third tourist, a Norwegian teenager, survived after being treated at a local hospital.
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Comments have been disabled for this article.


Feel so sad for these young people.

Posted by Been here long time on May 7, 2009 19:08


I feel so sad for the families of those 2 young people and I feel so sad for Thailand. This country is just revealing its true nature, the only thing matters here is money money and again money. They would lie to the world just to be able to protect their tourism. This country is shocking me so much lately that I think leaving it and giving my business elsewhere in Asia in a much more safer and respectful place.

Posted by Antony on May 7, 2009 22:11


No hesitation -- Jill and Ryan were not arguing on the beach. I wasn't there, but it's just something we who know them know without a doubt. What an infuriatingly preposterous thing to throw out there! I can also say without hesitation that I would not be at all surprised if Island Authorities had made these claims themselves.

Posted by Susan on May 8, 2009 09:19


No hesitation -- Jill and Ryan were not arguing on the beach. I wasn't there, but it's just something we who know them know without a doubt. What an infuriatingly preposterous thing to throw out there!

Posted by Susan on May 8, 2009 09:20


I am feeling the same way. It's beginning to seem like Thailand is just a few steps away from becoming Burma. Also, why is this woman's body being cremated before the cause of death is determined?

Posted by Anonymous on May 8, 2009 09:50


How will they ever figure out what killed these individuals, they can't even decide what the time of death was at the hospital, or even who died first. Unbelievable.

Posted by Johnny Farang on May 8, 2009 10:29


Thai nature coming at you at it's worst. Bit off topic though, I was involved in a small accident with a motor cycle side car ( Saleng ) late at night, about eleven pm, no reflectors, no lights, cutting head on in front of me, only to then park in the road to chat to his buddies. Well, I thought the Thai people were a gentle lot, C*^%, the owner launched into me with a pestle from a cooking mortar, braking my nose and damaging my left eye, then he and other mobsters laddled into my wife ??? Not even speaking thai eased the situation. Thank heavens we did not get out the car. I would have been lynched or shot. Thanks to the police who got there super quick and drove us out of there reu reu. Well to say the owner who beat me did not get a bahts worth of compensation from me, is his sum num naa. There I said the unmentionable words here. I heard from the police that there were six persons ready to do me in, and it was mentioned that they were the " M " people. My dream for living on, or inviting my friends to visit this island has been shattered.

Posted by Anonny on May 8, 2009 13:21


I hope they try some cr*p like that with me sometime. They'll get a dose or two they really won't expect.

Posted by Johnny Farang on May 9, 2009 08:44


The Thailand government needs to take responsibility for this instead of pointing fingers. I know Ryan and Jill and I saw how much they loved each other. To suggest that Jill's death was a result of an argument between the two is completely unbelievable. And if it were the result of a drink (which its not) what are they doing selling drinks that kill people? The US embassy needs to get off its ass and do something to make Thailand acknowledge that something needs to be done. Otherwise more tourists will die. Much love Jill...

Posted by Shayla on May 9, 2009 22:21


Why was she cremated so fast?? Did the family even have a say in that decision??

Posted by Anonymous on May 11, 2009 12:40


First there were no such things as sex workers, casinos, HIV, aids and the list goes on. Just like Thaksin denies everything, is not corrupt and bears don't do their business in the woods. Denial is always what is resorted to first.

Posted by Anonymous on May 11, 2009 13:55


There are many, many sex workers here...... everybody is out to screw you for money.

Posted by Bom Bom on May 11, 2009 14:14


I will never visit Phi Phi or any other small destination in Thailand, not because two tourists died but because of how it was covered up. You have to know they would treat you the exact same way.

Posted by John Robinson on May 31, 2009 08:00


This sounds a lot like chlorine poisoning. Chlorine gas is readily formed by mixing common household cleaning agents such as bathroom scale remover (acid) and bathroom disinfectant/mold remover (hypochlorite). The rooms where the accidents happened may have had the air-conditioning set to recycle the indoor air and the chlorine stayed in the room. Lethal concentrations of chlorine are readily noticed by persons. However, persons develop a tolerance and after a while do not notice concentrations that are lethal with prolonged exposure.

Posted by Chemical Engineer on June 1, 2009 03:24


Has anyone considered degraded airconditioning refrigerant? Some refrigerants that overheat or burn produce phosgene gas that as very low levels is deadly causing lung congestion and nausea. Someone should check on this given the proximity of two deaths.

Posted by DPawlowski on June 1, 2009 04:20

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