Family trying to repatriate young Irishman who died kayaking in Surat Thani last weekend – Thai Examiner


Irish Department of Foreign Affairs through the Irish Embassy in Bangkok seeking an official report on the Irishman’s death and helping to make arrangements for the repatriation of his body. The young tourist had only arrived in Thailand the week before staying just outside the capital. 

The family of a young Irishman who died tragically in Surat Thani province last weekend are currently liaising with the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin as they attempt to repatriate his body. The remains of 22-year-old Odhrán O’Neill were sent to a local hospital for an autopsy after being found near a kayaking craft on Sunday. He went missing approximately 19 hours before. The kayak had capsized while setting off with friends from a jetty at the dam within a national park area.

22-year-old, Odhrán Joseph O’Neill from County Armagh in Ireland. His remains were recovered 15 metres below his kayak on Sunday morning. The craft had capsized over nineteen hours earlier while setting out on an expedition in the Rajjaprabha Dam in the Khao Sok National Park in the Ban Ta Khun district of Surat Thani.

The Irish Department of Foreign Affairs is liaising with authorities in Thailand to facilitate the repatriation of the body of a 22-year-old Irish man which was found on Sunday morning at 11.23 am at the Rajjaprabha Dam in the Khao Sok National Park in the Ban Ta Khun district of the southern province of Surat Thani.

The Irishman had been reported as missing to police on Saturday evening last the 17th December.

Odhrán O’Neill disappeared only 4.5 metres from the jetty where he had set off with his kayak before it capsized, his body was found the next day

It is understood that the young man had disappeared from his kayak while just 4.5 metres from the jetty on Saturday and had indicated that he would swim back but subsequently went missing.

This was at 4 pm on Saturday afternoon last.

A report was made to Police Lieutenant Colonel Pattarin Suthipattham of the Royal Thai Police two hours after the incident at 6 pm when the Irishman could not be found and a search was ordered involving officers of the Ratchaprapha Dam Police Patrol.

The Irish tourist, named by police as Odhrán Joseph O’Neill, had been at the dam, a popular recreational centre, with friends when his kayak overturned after leaving the jetty on an expedition.

His body was found on Sunday near the same craft at a depth of 15 metres.

Arrived in Thailand the week before with a friend after taking a break from an apprenticeship position, planned to travel extensively in the kingdom

Mr O’Neill, originally from Lurgan in County Armagh, had travelled to Thailand last week with a friend after taking a sojourn from an apprenticeship to travel and broaden his horizons.

He had been staying just outside Bangkok and had plans to travel extensively within Thailand over the coming months.

On Saturday evening, after news from Surat Thani filtered back to Ireland, the young man’s sister Michaela raised the alarm on social media after initial fears that he had gone missing without his wallet and identity documents.

‘He has tall, dark hair covered in tattoos. If anyone knows where he is please contact me or the authorities,’ she told social media users and also enlisted the help of an Irish Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) club where one of Mr O’Neill’s relations, Mr Rogan McVeigh is a senior player.

Warm tribute paid to the Irishman in his home county of Armagh in Northern Ireland by sister Michaela

Odhrán O’Neill lived in the Antrim Road area of Lurgan, a sizable town in County Antrim approximately 18 miles from Belfast, the principal city in Northern Ireland.

The local Gaelic Athletic (GAA) Club on Sunday broke the news.

‘Unfortunately, it is not the outcome we had all hoped and prayed for. Odhrán’s body has been found this morning. Thank you to everyone who assisted in the search efforts by sharing. Our thoughts and prayers are with the O’Neill, O’Dowd and McVeigh families at this very difficult time,’ a statement read.

His sister Michaela paid a warm and emotional tribute to her brother on Sunday saying his life was ‘cut short far too early’.

‘He was out seeing the world and living his best life as what we all have wanted for him,” she declared on social media. ‘He will be remembered as a strong, charming and all-around the best boy. Thank you to everyone who has shared and we appreciate all the effort but he is now with the angels. I love you forever big bro. Forever in my heart.’

Consular officials liaising to repatriate the body

Meanwhile, the body of Mr O’Neill was taken to Ban Ta Khun Hospital where a routine autopsy was performed as part of a police investigation which has been opened into his death, also a routine matter in such situations.

The Irish Department of Foreign Affairs, through the Irish Embassy in Bangkok, first of all, called for confirmation of the Irishman’s death in Thailand 

It is expected that it will take between seven to fourteen days for the remains of Mr O’Neill to be repatriated after release by authorities.

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About the Author


James Morris and Son Nguyen

James Morris is a pename for an international writer based in Bangkok who works on various international news media. He is a sub editor with the Thai Examiner news website since it began in 2015. Son Nguyen is an international writer and news commentator specialising in Thai news and current affairs. He commenced working with the Thai Examiner News Desk in May 2018.

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