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Red Bull heir arrested in deadly Thai hit-and-run

Wednesday, September 05, 2012    

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BANGKOK, Thailand(AP) — A grandson of the creator of the Red Bull energy drink has been arrested for driving a Ferrari that struck a police officer and dragged his dead body down a Bangkok street in an early-morning hit-and-run, police said.

Police took Vorayuth Yoovidhya, 27, for questioning after tracing oil streaks for several blocks to his family's gated estate in a wealthy neighbourhood of the Thai capital.

He was facing charges of causing death by reckless driving and escaping an arrest by police but was released on a 500,000 baht (US$15,900) bail.

Vorayuth admitted he drove the charcoal gray sports car but said the police officer's motorcycle abruptly cut in front of his vehicle, said police Major General Anuchai Lekbamroong, the lead investigator in the case.

Bangkok's top police official, Lieutenant General 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 Ferrari with a badly damaged front bumper and broken windshield.

The victim, Seargeant Major Wichean Glanprasert, 47, was killed during a motorcycle patrol before dawn. Thai media reported that the car dragged the officer and his motorcycle for several dozen feet 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."

Vorayuth did not speak to the media but the family lawyer said the family will be take responsibility for the damages.

The Yoovidhaya family was ranked the fourth richest in Thailand this year by Forbes magazine, with a net worth of US$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 the sole authorised importer of Ferrari cars in Thailand.

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