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Red Bull heir suspected in deadly hit-and-run

Monday, September 03, 2012 | 7:03 AM    

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BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) — A grandson of the creator of the Red Bull energy drink is suspected of driving the charcoal Ferrari that struck and killed a policeman and then dragged the officer's body down a Bangkok street in an early-morning, hit-and-run accident, police said today.

Police took Vorayuth Yoovidhya, believed to be in his late 20s, for questioning after tracing oil streaks for several blocks to his family's gated estate in a wealthy neighbourhood of the Thai capital.

Bangkok's top police official, Lt Gen Comronwit Toopgrajank, said he took charge of the investigation after a lower-ranking policeman initially tried to cover up the crime by turning in a bogus suspect. Comronwit himself led a team of officers to search the compound of late Red Bull founder Chaleo Yoovidhaya, one of Thailand's wealthiest men before he passed away this year, and confiscated a dark gray Ferrari with a dented front bumper.

The victim, Sgt Maj Wichean Glanprasert, 47, was killed during a pre-dawn motorcycle patrol. Thai media reported that the car dragged the officer and his motorcycle for several dozen meters as it sped through the residential neighbourhood.

Comronwit said he suspended the police officer who attempted to subvert the investigation.

"A policeman is dead. I can't let this stand. If I let this case get away, I'd rather quit," he told reporters. "I don't care how powerful they are. If I can't get the actual man in this case, I will resign."

The Yoovidhaya family was ranked the 4th richest in Thailand this year by Forbes magazine, with a net worth of $5.4 billion. Red Bull creator Chaleo Yoovidhaya died in his 80s in March, leaving his heirs a wide range of businesses, including shares in the globally popular energy drink brand, hospitals and real estate.

The family also co-owns a company that is a sole authorised importer of Ferrari cars in Thailand.

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