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ISSUE 117 VOL 15 PUBLISHED 4/9/2004

Student loses life in crash

By Jane Dudzinski
Executive Editor

Friday, April 9, 2004

Pongsakorn "Pong" Lertsachanant '06 died suddenly Sunday morning following a car accident in his native country of Thailand.

The campus first became aware of the tragedy after an e-mail was sent to the student body Monday with messages from Lertsachanant's father, Chartchai Lertsachanant '72, Campus Pastor Bruce Benson and Dean of Students Greg Kneser.

An international student who had been living in the United States for almost three years, Lertsachanant was an economics major at St. Olaf. He was also considering a philosophy major and an Asian studies concentration.

Lertsachanant had been in Thailand dealing with matters concerning his military obligation, where he would have had to spend two years in the service after college.

Pat Nelson '06, Lertsachanant's roommate, said that he is still reeling from the shock of the news he received Monday.

"I'm not exactly sure how to react because it was so sudden," Nelson said. "It feels surreal at the same time."

Still, Nelson fondly recalled their favorite pastime: hanging out.

"Instead of doing what we probably should have been doing on the weekends (homework), we would be hanging out, talking, watching movies and just chilling," he said.

Lertsachanant, an avid badminton fan, shared his love of the game with Nelson. In addition, they enjoyed working out together, playing video games, watching Anime and going to the Korean markets in the cities.

"I knew how much he loved Thailand - he always wanted me to come visit," Nelson said.

Nelson also remembered how many fellow students enjoyed Lertsachanant's company.

"Even people who had just met him thought he was nice, polite and funny," Nelson said. "And he was a really good judge of character."

Lertsachanant originally decided to come to St. Olaf after spending his senior year of high school in California. His father was a St. Olaf alumnus as well.

Nelson said that he originally met Lertsachanant during their freshman year in Ellingson when they would play video games late into the night with their JCs.

"We got along great and had common interests," Nelson said. "I thought it would be fun [to room together]."

Next week, there will be a memorial service, which Benson is currently planning. The date is not yet final, but it will take place at 5 p.m. to honor the time at which Lertsachanant was cremated Wednesday.

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