In 2004

American Student Presumed Drowned

koh-chang-news-logo21 June 2004

A marine rescue squad has been searching for an American exchange student presumed drowned after falling into Klong Plu waterfall on Koh Chang during a heavy storm on Saturday.

Exson Gloment, 30, who was on an exchange programme from the University of Hawaii, checked in with three other American friends at a resort on Koh Chang on Friday. They trekked their way to Klong Plu waterfall on Saturday with Mr Gloment leading the group.

One of Mr Gloment’s companions, Kratz Tricia, 30, said the group was close to reaching a reservoir when a freak storm swept through the area. A gale-force wind caused Mr Gloment to fall off a slippery rock, ending up in a strong current in the waters below.

Ms Kratz said Mr Gloment could not swim and quickly disappeared from sight. The friends alerted the police and other tourists, but they failed to locate Mr Gloment. The Trat marine rescue unit was later called in to help.

Capt Suwatthi Chitdecha, commander of the Trat marine taskforce, said strong currents had meant that the rescue operation was highly dangerous, and that it was impossible to launch a dive-search on Saturday. The search operation began yesterday, but Mr Gloment is now feared dead. Mr Gloment’s relatives and the US embassy have been informed.

2 Comments

  • Hi Tricia

    Many thanks for setting the record straight.

    This article, like all others in the ‘News’ section of the site came from an English language report in Thailand – most likely either The Nation newspaper or Bangkok Post newspaper. It definitely wasn’t written by me. Unfortunately I don’t have a link to the original story, so cant say for sure where it came from.

    Ian

  • Its amazing after all these years, I come across this article which I, Tricia Kratz, will address to those who are reading it, but especially to Ian who wrote the article. I wonder why I was not interviewed since this article is written about me, quoting me.
    First of all you quote me as being 9 years younger than I was at the time and Exon (not Exson) was not from the University of Hawaii (I was), he was from San Diego State University in CA. We were not exchange students, we were intern students doing our social work practicums in the city.

    There was NOT a heavy storm that day, though earlier we did have some rain, that is why we choose not to rent motorcycles and decided to do something we thought would be safe. We even hired a guide for safety reasons, but the guide choose to sit in his car while we walked the 10 minutes up to the who didn’t walk with us like he was supposed to Klong Plu waterfall.

    When we arrived there it was as calm as one would expect with a little rain falling earlier. We were all friends on this small hike and no one was leading the group. You quote me as saying a freak storm swept through the area. That is untrue nor was there a gale-force wind causing Exon to fall off a slippery rock. Exon was only in a few inches of water, when he mistakenly lifted his feet up off the ground to waddle in the few inches of water. Not knowing how to swim and having ones feet off the ground and not realizing how strong the waterfall ahead of him was coming down, had my dear friend not be able to stand back up, then he went was swept down to a lower pool.

    We tried to encourage him to grab onto a rock in the middle of the pool, but the waters did not lead him that way. Instead he went down the waterfall, which was powerful enough to hold him under and his feet got wedged into a rock, this is why he never came up. There were no other tourists in the area as you so state. He never came up, but we had no idea he was wedged in between rocks below the waterfall. Had we been smart and had a rope, we could have threw it to him when he was trying to reach for the rock as the waters were calm enough at that point for him to grab it and we could have pulled him out safely.

    It took 3 days for them to find our friends body and it was so very sad that he died. Had we not had the connections that we did there, things would have changed so drastically for us. We were interrogated for days, calling us into the police station even at midnight for relentless questions, making accusations that perhaps we had a fight with him and threw him in as we knew he did not swim.

    They refused to give us an English interpreter and wanted us to sign statements that were in Thai. I refused and good thing I did as when our interpreter got there he told us we would have signed a statement stating we pushed him in the water. I have no respect for the investigators on this case as all they wanted was to blame someone for this tragic event instead of admitting our hired guide failed to do his job of escorting us to the waterfall, and the park had no safety equipment near by (a simple doughnut like floating device on a rope or a rope crossing the water or even a sign stating it could be dangerous) may have saved his life.

    I am not bitter about this as I don’t hold them responsible, it was literally a freak accident. The way the sun hit the water at the exact second made the waters appear more calmer than they were…we lost a great man who had a love for the Thai people and he touched many lives while i Thailand, not to mention in his short life. I highly recommend when you, as a reporter, actually contact those you are writing about. In the USA, I believe this would be a taboo, to quote someone you never talked too.

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