British Backpacker, 24, Dies in Train Plunge to Thailand's 'Death Island'

Report British Backpacker, 24, Dies in Train Plunge to Thailand’s ‘Death Island’ – The tragic incident involving Ryan Joseph Ralph, a 24-year-old Canadian, and his girlfriend Shona Morgan, a 22-year-old British backpacker, unfolded during their journey to Thailand’s notorious Koh Tao, often referred to as “Death Island.” The couple boarded an overnight train from Bangkok on March 20, 2024, with the intention of celebrating Shona’s birthday on the island. A few hours into their journey, Ryan left Shona sleeping and went for a cigarette at the end of the carriage, where many trains lack doors or barriers. This decision proved fatal as he fell from the moving train, believed to have been injured before being pulled briefly along the tracks.

British Backpacker, 24, Dies in Train Plunge to Thailand's 'Death Island'
British Backpacker, 24, Dies in Train Plunge to Thailand’s ‘Death Island’

Key Facts:

  • The tragic death of Ryan Joseph Ralph, 24, occurred after he fell from a moving train while traveling to Koh Tao, Thailand, for a birthday trip.
  • The incident highlights the dangers of traveling on Thailand’s aging trains, which have been notorious for their poor safety standards.
  • Koh Tao has been dubbed “Death Island” following the murders of British backpackers in 2014, adding to its ominous reputation.
  • The investigation into Ryan’s death revealed that he had been traveling in Thailand since February 17, 2024, and Shona had flown into the country shortly after to celebrate his birthday.
  • The body was taken to the Forensic Institute for a post-mortem examination, and the Canadian Embassy was informed of his death.

Ryan was found dead the following day, March 21, under a newly built platform at the Chet Samian Railway Station in Ratchaburi province. The police investigation revealed that Ryan fell and was struck by part of the concrete platform while the train was still in motion. He managed to drag himself underneath to escape the wheels but later succumbed to blood loss.

The initial search for Ryan, initiated by Shona after she woke up an hour later and found him missing, was unsuccessful. Authorities used the GPS tracker on Ryan’s phone to scour a 30km stretch of tracks from the Khlong Bang Tan Railway Station to the Ban Kluai Railway Station but failed to locate him. The search resumed the next morning, leading to the discovery of Ryan’s body under the platform at Chet Samian Railway Station. His belongings, including a smartphone, sandals, and headphones, were found nearby.

The incident has drawn attention to the safety concerns associated with Thailand’s aging trains, which have been notorious for their poor safety standards. This is not the first time such accidents have occurred on the same route. In 2014, Matt Lawlor, a 19-year-old British backpacker, died after falling from a train on the same route. In February 2017, Daniel Clarke, a 20-year-old British backpacker, was left in intensive care after falling from a moving train. Additionally, in January 2023, Patrick Ward, a 45-year-old Irish national, tragically died after falling from a moving train in Kanchanaburi, reportedly while trying to take a selfie.

Koh Tao has been dubbed “Death Island” following the murders of British backpackers Hannah Witheridge and David Miller in 2014. The island’s notoriety has been further tarnished by allegations of corrupt Thai police and a powerful clique of local families covering up the murders to protect the lucrative tourism industry.

Ryan’s body was taken to the Forensic Institute for a post-mortem examination, and police informed his relatives of his death through the Canadian Embassy. The tragic incident serves as a stark reminder of the dangers associated with traveling in Thailand, particularly on trains, and the need for improved safety measures.

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