Leg Ops for victims of drunk driver
Drunk driver. 2 innocent girls. Wrong place, wrong time. Now they are paying, and he is let off. Please read on...
This is Sokchan, 18, my sister in law. The other young girl is Sokchan's school friend Sokmealea, also 18. I am Daniel, British, my partner Cambodian, and as such, Sokchan's sad story takes place in Cambodia.
A drunk driver smashed his car into a motorbike with two, 18 year old girls driving on it, on the night of the Thursday 5th January, 2017. Upon impact, they were both thrown over 10m across the asphalt. The collision was brutal, near fatal. However, he didn't stop. After he struck the girls, he quickly tried to escape from the scene, but foolishly smashed into a parked car, stopping him in his tracks. He was caught and was taken to the police station. All because he couldn't wait for the car in front of him to give way at a crossroads.
Sokchan and Somealea were severely injured. At the scene, Somealea had a bone in her leg snapped and forced through the skin and even the jeans she was wearing. Sokchan is worse off, having had her shin bone shattered, her hip forced from it's socket and her pelvis cracked. They were taken to a private clinic. The operations were carried out quickly due to the severity of the injuries, the owner of the clinic has been sympathetic to their story, and has delayed payment until after their treatments have ended. We have been told that the operations on Chan and Mealea will cost us $10,000 dollars for each girl. This price is before further treatments, rehabilitation, medicines, and not including the $400 ambulance ride that got them to the clinic.
The surgeon believes that the operations seem to have been successful, though both may not be able to stand up for the next two months. They are both underpriveleged 18 year old students trying to make something of their lives, at Paul Dubrule Hotel and Tourism school in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
The families of the girls have spent over two days in the police station, trying to get the driver to accept responsibility and pay for the surgery. He is a business owner and he has the funds to afford the treatments. Today however, he said he would pay each girl $1,000. Unfortunately, the legal system does not work the same way here as back home. Poor people cannot afford to pay for representation, and are often left with nothing. The accused often get away with their crimes. In Sokchan's case, the police are already siding with the driver because he is wealthy, the girls are not, and this has left both families in an abysmal situation. There is no justice. The drivers lack of remorse has left us speechless and disgusted.
The average wage of a Cambodian person is $150 (£122) per month. Health insurance is not a viable option, starting from around $1000 per person, per year. For this reason, almost nobody can afford to be covered, leaving them to fend for themselves in case of accidents and emergencies.
Because the treatments are happening now and are ongoing, we don't know the exact figures, only what the hospital have quoted us so long as nothing goes wrong, eg. Infections. We will post the receipts of each treatment as they arrive, and keep everybody who has helped, updated and aware of the both the financial situation, and the physical situation of Sokchan and Somealea. Because Cambodian banks aren't an option to receive funds, the donations are being sent to my account in England. Once we receive the donations required, I will transfer them to my Cambodian bank account, as the girls don't have one between them. Then, I will pay in cash, all of the costs as they arrive. I will be updating with ALL receipts as they are paid, to keep everybody aware and be as transparent as humanly possible. I am Sokchan's brother in law, and she is so special to us all. Her friend is poor, and so any donations received will be divided equally between the two, and if there are remaining costs, our two families will work them out between us.
Two young, innocent lives have been potentially ruined by a drunk who accepts no responsibility for his actions. Your help will be invaluable to the healing of the families and the girls involved in this tragic accident. In this time of sadness, any help or support, financial or otherwise, gives everybody sorely needed hope and will encourage a strong, healthy recovery for Sokchan and Somealea.
We thank you, everybody, for your support.
Thank you so much.
From the bottom of our hearts.
Somealea's injury is looking like it will progress fastest as the wounds have healed nicely. Sokchan's wounds aren't performing as well, although they are beginning to clear up. We still take her to the hospital every 3 days for cleaning and changing the bandages. They are both in good spirits, and yesterday was Somealea's birthday! So happy birthday to you brave lady!!! <3 x
And the first sets of bills have been paid.
The next step is cleaning (returning to hospital every 3 days for cleaning the wounds) and rehabilitation! We've made contact with the excellent and incredibly skilled Jan Gelderloos of the Bodhi Tree, who will be leading in the recovery and rehabilitation of the girls. They have already met him for their first session! So far so good :)
I took the trip to the police office near the airport (for work permit purposes - equally as tragic...) where I, for the first time, got to see the damaged car. The crack on the window and the smashed stereo screen, are due to the driver "punching" those 2 things after he realised that he couldn't get away. The blood on the seat belongs to him, a result of his aggression. Pictures are attached for you to see, too.
He has told us that he won't settle for the price that we gave him. He has also told us that he would rather go to prison than deal with this stress any longer. So that may be what happens. We will push hard to receive compensation from him. He knows our demands. We will pursue this through the courts if he doesn't comply, and he will end up in prison. This is not the outcome we were hoping for, and is tragic in itself for everyone involved.
The GoFundMe is still open and collecting money, but we have lowered the amount to £15k, half of the original amount. At the very beginning of this, we were quoted up to $30k for the treatments, by the hospital. And that is what we have been pushing to achieve. Due to various reasons the costs have been reduced significantly. The wounds healing and the injuries becoming less disastrous have given the doctors a clear idea of what to do next, and it isn't as disastrous as first believed. The insight of the 2 French surgeons that visited the girls were immensely helpful as they recommended no further surgery, advice the hospital followed. The publicity surrounding this case also encouraged the bills to be lowered - they know that I am posting the bills online and there is a lot of interest from the public. Due to the above, we feel that we likely have enough now to cover the costs of the hospital (still more follow up costs to come of course), the costs of rehabilitation (very much ongoing), and the costs of everything we need to get the girls up and walking again! :) Fingers crossed xx
But, so long as the driver does not pay what we believe to be fair, there will be little to nothing left in way of compensation for the girls. This is why we are keeping open (though not pushing) the GoFundMe page, for anybody who feels that they would still like to contribute. The other reason is to keep awareness ongoing. If however, we do manage to get something from him, we expect that all of that can be divided up equally and given as compensation to the girls! Unfortunately, we will need to wait and see on that one...
Thank you for your continued interest and support!! Much love from us, for now x
(Ambulance bill is another $400 - totals thus far are $13,884 - this is now - more treatments and rehab to come.)
On the girls:
The good news, the girls are doing well! Somealea has had her for final surgery and will leave the hospital once all external wounds are fully healed. Her 2nd and final surgery was yesterday (Saturday 4th February). Now she will not require further surgery and will start rehabilitation - I am told that the hospital will set this up.
Sokchan is still having the exterior wound on her shin treated. It has been infected for a couple of weeks and they are cleaning it everyday, cutting away the dead tissue. The most discomfort she was feeling was in her hip, but this pain is now gone. A pair of French surgeons came to visit the girls lat week, they advised the hospital of the best way to continue. The hospital followed their advice. They will not do another operation, and will place her leg in a plaster cast, once her infected wound has healed. It could be more than a week, but that will slash costs, thankfully. All IV's have been stopped as well (one of our demands). So, all this means is that Sokchan will hopefully come home soon!!
On the driver:
His car is still being held at the police station. After a week of negotitating with him, my gf never weakened. Against the odds, she stayed strong and managed to make a deal, which we certainly view as a victory. First bills paid by driver, plus a new motorbike (or at the very least, restoration of the old one.) However, that has been delayed as the police have informed him that the matter was moved up to the courts, so they cannot provide him with the correct papers we need to settle. This means that if he is not paying the judge something (bail?), he will go to prison until all of this is sorted. They are not ignoring the fact that he was drunk! Because of his consistent delaying and trying to negotate a better deal for himself, he has put himself into this difficult and scary situation. It is our hope that he is now feeling at least 1/10th of the stress that we have endured. Unfortunately, it means no money from him yet to pay the hospital bills.
Thankfully however, there was 'you' who has supported and given strength and hope to us from the very start. Due to you, we can (for now) cover the bills the hospital is set to throw at us, should be able to cover rehabilitation costs, and provided those aren't insanely expensive, we can divide whatever is left between the girls! :) Due to updated figures and fundraising efforts separate to this site, we have lowered the amount that we need to raise for the girls. We would like to keep this site open for awareness purposes, and give anybody the chance to donate anything extra for the girls. However, we feel confident that we have raised the appropriate funds for them!
I hope that this covers everything up until this point. More updates to follow. Thank you everybody, for everything. Much love xxx