BANGKOK (AP) – A Thai-American woman living in Michigan who fled to Thailand after allegedly being involved in a hit-and-run accident who killed a college student has agreed to return to the United States to face charges, police said on Wednesday.
Tubtim “Sue” Howson, 57, allegedly struck Michigan State University student Benjamin Kable, 22, just before dawn on January 1 and, according to US authorities, flew to Thailand on a one-way ticket on 3 of January. place in Oakland County, Michigan.
A state charge of failing to stop in a serious accident was filed on February 2, and a federal charge related to her flight out of the country was filed on February 6.
Thai National Police Deputy Chief Surachate Hakparn, speaking at a news conference that Howson also attended, announced that she intends to return to the United States to face the charges, and preparations are being made for her to return before Sunday.
“I left home for work around 5:30 to 6:00. It’s winter and it was very dark. There was usually no one walking on the road there except deer,” Towson said, relating the accident. She said that she initially thought she had run over a deer, but when asked later why she fled to Thailand, she replied that when she saw Kable’s body, she thought he must be dead.
“I didn’t think I was going to run away, but I was really shocked. I tried to call the police, but my hands were shaking. I couldn’t do anything,” she said.
The FBI, when it filed a federal indictment against her, noted in a court filing that she was originally from Thailand and allegedly told a close associate after the accident that she thought she had killed someone and was returning to Thailand.
“When encouraged to turn herself in to police, Howson allegedly declared, ‘no cops, no cops,’” FBI agent Matthew Schuff said in the lawsuit.
Towson arrived in Thailand on Jan. 5, and police said they began tracking her on Jan. 12 at the FBI’s request, finding her on Jan. 14 in the western province of Ratchaburi, where they suggested she turn herself in.
Thailand and the US have an extradition treaty, and if a suspect contests an extradition order, they must go through a Thai court, which can be a lengthy process.
Surachate said Howson has worked and lived in Michigan with his family and two children for more than 20 years.
“We didn’t arrest her. After learning the facts, she showed her intention to accept the US punishment,” she said. “This will set a good example for Thai society.”