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A grandson of the creator of the Red Bull energy drink has been arrested for driving a Ferrari that struck a police officer and dragged his dead body down a Bangkok street in an early-morning hit-and-run, police said Monday.
Police took Vorayuth Yoovidhya, 27, for questioning after tracing oil streaks for several blocks to his family’s gated estate in a wealthy neighborhood of the Thai capital. He was facing charges of causing death by reckless driving and escaping an arrest by police but was released on a 500,000 baht ($15,900) bail.
Vorayuth admitted he drove the charcoal gray sports car but said the police officer’s motorcycle abruptly cut in front of his vehicle, said police Maj. Gen. Anuchai Lekbamroong, the lead investigator in the case.
The news of Yoovidhya’s arrest comes as Red Bull continues to ramp up its presence in Hollywood. The company’s original content division, Red Bull Media House, last month announced that it had partnered with Gravitas Ventures on a multiyear licensing deal that would put RBMH’s action sports documentary films on video-on-demand across the U.S. and Canada. The deal includes the snowboarding film The Art of Flight, which has screened at several film festivals and will play at the San Sebastian Film Festival later this month. The division also partnered with NBC earlier this year to launch the action-sports series Red Bull Signature Series.
Red Bull also typically has a major presence at the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, this year sponsoring a showcase featuring special guests like DJ Jazzy Jeff, Erykah Badu and Z-Trip, as well as other festivals around the world.
The Yoovidhaya family was ranked the fourth richest in Thailand this year by Forbes magazine, with a net worth of $5.4 billion. Red Bull creator Chaleo Yoovidhaya died in his 80s in March, leaving his heirs a wide range of businesses, including shares in the globally popular energy drink brand, which has been endorsed by or affiliated with celebrities and athletes including Eminem, Reggie Bush, Shaun White and Blake Griffin. The brand arguably took off several years ago thanks in part to Britney Spears being photographed by paparazzi drinking it on several occasions.
The family also has shares in hospitals and real estate and co-owns the sole authorized importer of Ferrari cars in Thailand.
Bangkok’s top police official, Lt. Gen. Comronwit Toopgrajank, said he took charge of the hit-and-run investigation after a lower-ranking policeman initially tried to cover up the crime by turning in a bogus suspect.
Comronwit himself led a team of officers to search the compound of late Red Bull founder Chaleo Yoovidhaya, one of Thailand’s wealthiest men before he passed away this year, and confiscated a Ferrari with a badly damaged front bumper and broken windshield.
The victim, Sgt. Maj. Wichean Glanprasert, 47, was killed during a motorcycle patrol before dawn. Thai media reported that the car dragged the officer and his motorcycle for several dozen yards as it sped through the residential neighborhood.
Comronwit said he suspended the police officer who attempted to subvert the investigation.
“A policeman is dead. I can’t let this stand. If I let this case get away, I’d rather quit,” he told reporters. “I don’t care how powerful they are. If I can’t get the actual man in this case, I will resign.”
Vorayuth did not speak to the media but the family lawyer said the family will be take responsibility for the damages.
The Hollywood Reporter staff contributed to this report.
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