PHUKET: The sole survivor of a head-on collision between two motorcycles was released from a Phuket hospital this week and is slowly recovering at her family home in a north eastern province.
Kanlayakorn Chukratok, a ladyboy known to her friends as ''Mo'' (short for Monica), sustained serious head injuries when the bike she and a friend were riding collided with one ridden by an American tourist on December 20, not long after midnight.
The American, 51-year-old Theodore Paul Roe, died instantly. Khun Mo's friend Saknarin Wilap, a ladyboy known as ''Som,'' was riding their bike in Viset Road, Rawai.
She was pronounced dead on arrival at Vachira Phuket Hospital in Phuket City.
Mr Roe was ''very drunk,'' according to Chalong Police Captain Thada Sodarak. Security camera footage in Rawai confirmed that Mr Roe, who lived near Soi Mangosteen, was driving on the wrong side of the road.
None of the three individuals were wearing helmets.
Mo's story is a reminder that for every tragic death on Phuket's roads, the statistics forget the survivors who must often continue their lives with serious disabilities.
Khun Mo is now a paraplegic. She has lost her ability to speak, although she can acknowledge others with small movement and sounds, according to a friend, Gordon Thompson.
''She'll probably have to wear nappies for the rest of her life,'' Thompson told Phuketwan
''She can't stand up or walk. She can move one arm and point at things, but her left arm is paralysed and she cannot eat by herself.''
Mo's sister, Mr Thompson and friends raised enough money, 20,000 baht, to pay for Mo's taxi to Chaiyaphum on Tuesday but they are uncertain of how her family will manage to support her in the long term.
''She's lying on the floor, right now,'' Mr Thompson said. ''We'd like to buy her a wheelchair. I'm happy for her to live with me in the spare bedroom if she can come back to Phuket.''
Mo was staying with Mr Thompson in Phuket last year and was on her way back to his place on the night that the incident happened.
When she did not answer his calls late in the evening, he assumed that she decided to stay with friends.
It was only the next day that one of Mo's friends called Mr Thompson to tell him what had happened.
He has done his best to help out, but the retired skipper is on a pension. ''There's only so much I can do by myself,'' he said.
Mr Thompson would like to set up a fund to help Mo. They know each other from the Phuket Cruising Yacht Club where Mo worked with Som, who died in the crash.
''Everybody loved Mo at the yacht club. She was great fun,'' Mr Thompson said.
The relatives of the two ladyboys could press charges, according to Police Captain Thada, but may face a long wait as information is collected from authorities in the US.
It is not yet known whether Mr Roe, who had borrowed the bike from a friend, had insurance.
Denny Bowman, a US Warden on Phuket, said: ''People become a victim of the entire system. The question is: who steps forward to help the family?''
Captain Thada also said that Mr Roe's body was cremated at a temple last week.
His friends and family in the US have left messages of condolence on an online obituary from the 'Bellingham Herald' and on a blog.
No relatives claimed his body so the police cremated it. His girlfriend, who was with him earlier the night of the crash, did not attend.
Mo has no memory of the crash and does not know her friend is dead.
In 2011, the last calendar year for which statistics are available, 119 people died on Phuket's roads. A huge total of more than 15,000 people required hospital treatment.
Most of those injured were riding motorcycles. A sizeable proportion of crash victims will be crippled for life.
Sophie Brown, a journalism masters student at the University of Hong Kong, is currently an intern at Phuketwan. She is a former communications officer at the anti-corruption organisation, Transparency International.