May 7, 2009

Tragedy In Phi Phi, Thailand

Some unfortunate news has come my way, and I wanted to share it with the readers of GS. This past week, two women who were on vacation in Ko Phi Phi, Thailand, died of suspicious circumstances.

Jill St. Onge, 27, from Seattle, became severely ill and died early Sunday morning. She was rushed to the hospital by her fiancee after becoming increasingly sick over a span of a day. Jill was backpacking for three months around SE Asia, and planned to return to the US on May 12th. This was one of their last stops. Jill's fiancee Ryan also became sick, but survived the incident.

Julie Michelle Bergheim, 22, from Norway, also fell ill with the same symptoms, and died on Monday. Her friend, a 19 year old woman, who was also from Norway, is recovering from the same illness in Phuket Bangkok General Hospital.

All four people stayed at the same budget guest house called Laleena Guest House, and became sick within hours of each other. Doctors on Phi Phi said the women died of dehydration and shock. Autopsies are being done to determine the cause of deaths, but several theories are being circulated. Food poisoning, and contaminated air or water are being looked into. It is believed that the two women did not have any contact with each other.

It's so sad to hear this type of news, especially because I have fond memories of Ko Phi Phi, and Thailand in general. Ko Phi Phi is a crazy island, and although many visit to relax and stay at the remote bungalows, it's a hot spot for young backpackers looking to drink and dance all night. I know I did. This just reminds us to be aware of our surroundings, and try to stay safe, but sometimes you just can't avoid it.

My heart goes out to all of the families affected. It's so sad, since I'm such an advocate of leaving the comfort of your own home to travel and experience the world. But unfortunately tragedies like this do happen. I hope the families get answers from the autopsies, that will help clear up the mystery, and that the Thai authorities will act to make sure something like this never happens again if it is a case of negligence.

In the meantime, travel safe, and be aware, but don't let this stop you from enjoying life and new cultures.

If you would like more info, and to share your support with Jill's family, check out Photos of both Jill and Julie are courtesy of the Andaman Times.

1 comment:

beccaNY said...

The first one, Jill, was on her honeymoon. So sad! Thanks for sharing.