Leena Jangjunja's colourful campaign for the post of Bangkok governor ended tragically yesterday with the drowning of her top aide during their visit to a canal-side community.
Teerasak Sitanont, a 32-year-old former reporter, is survived by his heavily pregnant wife.
Teerasak followed a pink-clad Leena to the Klong Sam Wa Tawantok community yesterday morning after receiving a complaint that locals there had no access to tap water.
"I wanted to help them," Leena said.
After hearing that locals had to bathe in the Klong Sam Wa canal, the Bangkok-governor hopeful decided to experience things for herself by taking a dip in the waterway.
Waving his arms
"After a few minutes of bathing, I saw a rash developing on my body," Leena said, "I was about to get out when I heard someone saying that Teerasak was in the water too, waving his arms."
Leena realised that something had gone terribly wrong.
"Team members dived into the canal but couldn't find him anywhere even."
Rescue workers arrived on the scene and finally retrieved Teerasak's body from the canal at around 1pm. Police believe that Teerasak may have developed cramp and been unable to keep himself afloat.
"I loved him like a son. I'm too distraught go on with the campaign," Leena said.
Instead, her immediate plans are to focus on the funeral rites and helping his wife through the tragedy and its aftermath.
"I will give her a monthly stipend of Bt20,000, then Bt30,000 after the childbirth. If she wants me too, I will also take care of her baby," Leena said.
Commenting on yesterday's tragedy, Darunee Hirunrak - former dean of Chulalongkorn University's Faculty of Communication Arts - said Leena's tactics had been tainted.
"Suddenly, all the colourful things she has done are being viewed negatively," said Darunee, adding that she was saddened to hear of Teerasak's death.
She went on to say that the tragedy should prod the Election Commission into ensuring that campaigns stop focusing so much on headline-grabbing activities.
"The campaigns should highlight policies," Darunee said.