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Legless surfer Fred Aakerlund was beaten and kicked by Patong thugs

Phuket Thugs Kick Legless Surfer

Friday, March 6, 2015
PHUKET: A champion disabled surfer has told for the first time of being tormented by a gang in his wheelchair on the holiday island of Phuket before being beaten, kicked and left laying on the ground.

Frederik Aakerlund, 48, from Denmark, has no legs. They were surgically amputated after being seriously wounded on active military service in 2007.

Fred left Patong Hospital today after two months of treatment following a Phuket bashing that veteran Phuket police volunteer Wal Brown described as ''savage and shocking.''

It was random violence, a horror scene from 'A Clockwork Orange.'

''I wake up thinking, 'Did this really happen?'' Fred said today. ''But yes, it did happen.''

Local police say that although many security cameras probably recorded the gang's brutal deed, it's probably too late to trace them - even though Fred remembers at least three of the men's faces.

''This wasn't at nighttime,'' Fred told Phuketwan from his hospital bed. ''This is in pure daylight.

''It was in the beach road in Patong, about 7am one morning. I was going to see if there were some waves that I could surf

''I'm the only professional disabled surfer in the world, travelling for standup paddle surfing, and I'm an ambassador for the International Surfing Association. I teach disabled people that they can get into the water rather than staying in their wheelchairs.

''This day I'm in between some cars, trying to cross from the beach side of the road to the other side.

''Five or six guys come up to me and play this game of pushing me from one to the other.

''I asked them to stop because my sports wheelchair is unstable and can easily flip over. This is dangerous stuff. 'Can you please stop this,'' I said.

''One of them got really aggressive and said 'You cannot talk like that to us. Oh you f...ing tourists'. He pushed me really hard and I fell out of the wheelchair.

''When I was on the ground the first man kicked me. Then they all kicked me. I was also afraid they might have knives.

''They crunched some of my ribs and it went on for quite a while. They were in a happy mood.

''Then it was like you'd kicked a can and its not funny any more. They took the money from my bag and walked away.''

Fred said he was afraid to call for help because the kicking could get worse. He does not believe money was the motive. He thinks they were on steroids and possibly other drugs.

Bystanders came to his aid and put Fred back into his wheelchair then helped him to his room.

''For three-and-a-half days I just stared into space,'' he said.

Fred, a sixth-generation soldier who has served in ''hot'' situations all over the world, said he was ''really, really scared. I was so traumatised I could not move.

''In my mind I was maybe thinking they could come back. Eventually someone said: 'You have to go to hospital.'

''They pumped me full of stuff. That was two months ago.

''My reason for coming to Phuket was to take disabled and blind Thai children out on the water. That's now on hold. I was supposed to go to the world surfing championships in May, That will go on hold now too.''

Fred sits on a surfboard and uses a paddle to catch the waves. He competes against able-bodied people to show what's possible.

''I am really hit by this,'' he said. ''Some nasty things happen here, let's not be naive.

''But five or six guys decide for no reason to kick someone who is on the ground and push someone who is disabled out of a wheelchair?

''That's really an eye-opener. This at seven o'clock in the morning!''

Police told him: ''We'll never catch these guys. The amount of work watching all that security camera footage . . . that's never going to happen.

''Maybe if you had been killed, it would have happened.''

Fred has surfed in Australia, South America, South Africa - virtually all over the world - without problems and he knows there are many kind and generous people in Thailand.

Now using his time and his military pension to travel around the world, he was quite recently helping children in places as different as Gaza and Nepal to learn to surf.

That was going to continue on Phuket, and it probably still will. Fred doesn't give up.

He was part of the Danish detachment that came to Thailand after the tsunami in 2004 to help recover and identify bodies.

''It's not everyone who has hope and stamina,'' Fred said. ''If I can just get one or two disabled kids out on the water, before long they will be telling others how they can do it, too. I can see what a difference it makes to peoples' lives.

''There is a deep goodness in Thai people. Many of them help me when they see me on the road.''

His mind drifts back to the bashing, remembering his crushed ribs and ''the bruises all over my body.''

''You remember the football hooligans back in Britain once?'' he said. ''This was the kind of feeling. Not one of them said 'Enough is enough.'

''Because I was taking the beating and not screaming, I was trying to focus on 'Where is the knife going to come from'.

''This was just violence for the sake of it. I will take some weeks now to recover at my hotel then I will take the children surfing. I will not let this stop me.''

He says it's like post traumatic stress disorder. But he will recover.

''I am sure there will be a lot of healing in taking disabled children out on the water. I smile every day.''

Fred's Facebook page, Wet Wheel Surfer, has more than 71,000 followers. He deserves thousands more.

Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

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'We'll never catch these guys. The amount of work watching all that security camera footage . . . that's never going to happen." Reviewing camera footage 10 minutes either side of the time of the incident would not take long. Given the location, if one were to speculate, it would not be difficult to work out who may have been involved in this. If one were to speculate of course! Picking on a disabled (or anyone else) in this manner is disgraceful.

Posted by Mister Ree on March 6, 2015 17:52

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Why is the amount of work watching all that security camera footage in this case different to all other cases the police has solved with the help of security cameras?

Posted by Sherlock on March 6, 2015 17:56

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I follow reports of traffic police raids when they take drug tests on roads, it is constantly FIFTEEN PERCENTS of all tested that are drug-positive; it is on top of alcohol above legal limits.
So on roads risks are beyond the insanity; if you will get traffic accident , then those 15% alien-become-animal will show their temper.

Virtually everyone in low-skilled/semi-skilled sector is regular drug-user.

As it is says, disenfranchised scavenger of petite build exudes much higher criminal attack risk, than 2m athlete that is at the same a professional - when the first would feel someone looked on him in too arrogant way etc. - these guys have got not much to lose.

So when roles change, and these guys see sone vulnerable foreign targets, then they express themselves in full.

Psychologically, when one is getting discomfort and aggression feeling when another male of higher build make a presence to you in close vicinity. You can control those impulses, but they still not fade away completely. That is how Thai males probable feel all the time in tourism areas, so no wonder that it accumulate and then unfolds in ugly ways, and for that no drugs are needed.

The best is to avoid areas with crimes with criminal risks, although it is not easy and can't be find completely - including deserted areas both at night and during daytime.

Posted by Sue on March 6, 2015 19:05

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'We'll never catch these guys. The amount of work watching all that security camera footage . . . that's never going to happen.

===

indeed, time spent - and nothing, erh, of that what they mean , nothing coming in - of course, nobody will work diligently under such circumstances , diligent work will never happen under such terrible unstimulating conditions

Posted by Sue on March 6, 2015 19:23

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The lame excuse of not being able to review the video footage is as disgusting as the crime itself

Posted by sky on March 6, 2015 19:24

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Shouldnt all the tapes/electronic footage have timestamps and it should be worth it to get the thugs off the street, unless they suspect its off duty policeman

Posted by Michael on March 6, 2015 19:55

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if i would have seen that, i would go between them.

i know, normally a wise person who knows how thailand works wouldnt argue with a group of stupid thai kids and just stay far and call police maybe.

but this goes too far.

thanks i not saw this, i would went on rampage then.

Posted by funnyianer on March 6, 2015 20:04

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They've got cameras everywhere. Weird they can't see this.
Or they just want to see it?

Posted by Nicke on March 6, 2015 20:52

Editor Comment:

If it had been reported to the police at the time, there may have been some point.

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Sue

A lot of verbage but little actually said. Give the computer a break and go for a long walk and a nice swim. Your mine and body will certainly enjoy without question.

Posted by Anonymous on March 6, 2015 21:20

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Did Fred "Discover Thainess"?

Posted by Discover Thainess on March 7, 2015 03:46

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This story is totally appalling and shocking . I know many SE Asian men like to fight in groups to outnumber their adversaries , but an unprovoked attack on a disabled man is disgraceful. I'd bet good money that if this story made international headlines the Thai Police would find the time and the manpower to go through any video surveillance they have.

Posted by carvets on March 7, 2015 05:35

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2 months in hospital!!! no way

Posted by ayjay on March 7, 2015 07:45

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What sort of a pathetic police force fails to investigate this sort of disgusting gutless act . These boys are dangerous sociopaths . Patong police you are a disgrace to your uniform ! No wonder tourist arrivals are down. Where is the Governor ? investigation please

Posted by wagabc on March 7, 2015 08:26

Editor Comment:

The incident wasn't reported to the police at the time, and then mentioned to police visiting the hospital on other cases. There's also a limit to how far back many security cameras on Phuket are capable of retrieving footage.

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Can we get an official statement from the Patong Police?

Posted by Vfaye on March 7, 2015 08:38

Editor Comment:

Not much point, Vfaye. Sadly, the incident was never officially reported.

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Probably there should be a memorandum of Understanding between Hospitals and Police. When a wounded person arrives at hospital ( sometimes in shock), than the Hospital should call in the police to see the victim in the hospital and start the case file. At least than there is a quick beginning of criminal investigation.

Posted by Kurt on March 7, 2015 09:10

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7 a.m. is actually a very dangerous time of day in places like Patong, Pattaya, et cetera. Worthless POS thugs who have been up all night, drinking and taking drugs, are just going home to bed at that hour. 7 a.m. is slightly less dangerous than 6 a.m., but it's still an extremely dangerous hour in the scummy areas of Thailand.

Posted by ExNYPDcop on March 7, 2015 10:49

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I'm sending this info to the head of the ASP and the head of the ISA. And every other aid agency/ngo and social media site possible. .I'm glad I left ,,,,,,,

Posted by surfsrarvedkatoey on March 7, 2015 11:41

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Regardless if the incident was not officially reported back then they know now so a full investigation should be underway. It was only 2 months ago so there is no excuse as to not investigating. As for CCTV - many many will record far longer than months - easy to start - go back to when he was admitted and start from there - not rocket science.

Posted by Ciaran on March 7, 2015 12:22

Editor Comment:

No official complaint has been made so an investigation seems unlikely. Unreported crimes go uninvestigated.

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Why was there a delay in notifying the police?

Posted by The News Mare on March 7, 2015 12:42

Editor Comment:

For the reasons that the article makes plain: nobody at the scene called police. The traumatised victim eventually was taken to hospital and has been there for two months. No formal complaint has been made.

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FYI Mr Ed. His name is Fredrik which is stated in the beginning of the article and not Fred as repeated in the rest. We don't cut our names short in Denmark, as they do in many other countries. Calling someone Fred instead of Fredrik just sound weird to any Danish readin this tragic story.

Posted by Zenobiz on March 8, 2015 15:39

Editor Comment:

Actually the name, as written by the man who should know, is Frederik. You may think you speak for all Danish people, but can you be sure? It would certainly have been a tragic story if Fred had died. Fortunately, he'll soon be back doing what he loves: helping others. A credit to Denmark is Fred.

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It surely would have been tragic if Fredrik has died. I don't claim I'm speking for any Danish, but by shorten his name from Fredrik to Fred (which translated means "peace") just sound very weird to another Danish reading your report/article. It is just a friendly reminder that not all countries shorten their original names - In Denmark we certainly don't. To continue calling him Fred just sound worng to me. End!

Posted by Zenobiz on March 8, 2015 23:48

Editor Comment:

The man spells his name Frederik. Other Danes may wish he didn't, but he does. And to the rest of the world, he's Fred.

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Am I missing something ?
Step one use professional artist to produce pictures as the guy remembers their faces !
Step two put the pictures up around phuket with a 100k reward.
Step three catch them !

Posted by Conquesadord on March 10, 2015 06:09

Editor Comment:

Are you offering the 100,000 baht reward, Conquesadord?


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