According to police, a Michigan-based Thai-American woman who allegedly fled to Thailand after a hit-and-run accident that claimed the life of a college student has decided to return to the country to face charges.
Benjamin Kable, 22, a student at Michigan State University, was allegedly struck by Tubtim “Sue” Howson, 57, just before dawn on January 1. According to American authorities, Howson left for Thailand on a one-way flight on January 3. In Michigan’s Oakland County, the mishap happened.
On February 2, a state charge of failing to stop at a severe accident was filed, and on February 6, a federal indictment involving her leaving the country was filed.
Howson was there when Thai deputy national police commander Surachate Hakparn announced that she intended to travel back to the United States to face charges. Plans were being made for her to board a flight before Sunday.
“I left home for work around 5.30 a.m. to 6 a.m. It was the wintertime and it was very dark. Nobody usually walked on the road there except deer,” nobody typically walked on the road there. When asked afterward why she went to Thailand, she said that when she saw Kable’s body, she assumed he must be dead. She claimed that, at first, she thought she had hit a deer.
“I did not think I would run away, but I was shocked. I tried to call the police but my hands were shaking. I could not do anything,” she said.
She was originally from Thailand, and the FBI stated in a court document that after she was charged with a federal crime, she planned to return to Thailand because she believed she had killed someone.
According to FBI agent Matthew Schuff’s petition, Howson allegedly said, “When encouraged to turn herself in to police, Howson allegedly stated, ‘no cops, no cops.’”
Howson landed in Thailand on January 5, and according to police, they began tracking her on January 12 at the request of the FBI. On January 14, they said they found her in the western province of Ratchaburi, where they advised her to surrender herself in.
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A suspect must go through a Thai court to contest an extradition request under the treaty terms between Thailand and the United States, which can be a drawn-out procedure. Howson, according to Surachate, has lived and worked in Michigan for more than 20 years with her two children and family.
“We did not arrest her. After she knew the facts, she showed the intention to accept the punishment in the U.S.,” he said. “This will be a good example for Thai society.”
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