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NAKHON SRI THAMMARAT: A homeowner in Thung Song District is thanking a “phantom” emergency rescue vehicle for her luck in winning over 500,000 baht in the underground lottery.

The bizarre tale began shortly after midnight on September 3.

Pracha Ruamjai Foundation coordinator Akhom Phumiwetphong said that as rescue workers were relaxing at the station that night, one of their Isuzu pickup trucks converted for use as a makeshift ambulance suddenly switched on its engine.

The sound of the engine starting did not give the crew a shock, but what did frighten them was the fact that the doors were locked and the keys were safely in the hands of its owner, who was chatting with friends.

The driverless ambulance then pulled out of its parking spot, heading away from the foundation building.

The rescue workers tried to stop the slow-moving vehicle, but to no avail. After traveling about 15 meters, the ambulance crashed into the wall of a house diagonally across the street, Mr Akhom said.

The vehicle then switched on its tail and emergency lights, then the engine stalled.

None of the rescue workers, often derisively known as “body snatchers” in Thailand, dared to approach the vehicle. They waited until the following morning because they were sure it had been “driven” by the angry spirit of someone who had died in the vehicle while on the way to hospital.

The rescue workers, who had begun to forget about the automotive apparition after a few weeks, got yet another surprise on November 19.

The owner of the home the vehicle had run into appeared at the station at 8am with a strip of 500 firecrackers and some food offerings.

The woman, who for obvious reasons asked that her name not be reported, wanted to hold a ritual to pay respect to the vehicle after hitting it big in the underground lottery.

She had been playing her own house number “423” in the illegal lottery without success for some time, she said.

After the house was rammed, she decided to change the number to 422, the number of the foundation’s headquarters. The move paid off on September 16, when she won over half-a-million baht in the illegal lottery, she said.