Milwaukee man still in hospital after being hit by car in Thailand
A group of friends from Milwaukee went on vacation to Thailand, and two of them are still stuck there.
One is in the hospital and can't walk after a car crash. The other is taking care of him.
"The first part was amazing. It was life changing. It was beautiful," said Jesse Kaplan.
Kaplan and his friends planned their trip to Thailand for a year. He didn't expect it to end the way it did.
"I called a Grab which is their version of Uber, next thing you know I'm in the hospital," said Kaplan. "I ended up with 10 stitches, and after the 5th stitch I remember I just had this flash come to me and I saw headlights, and white van."
Kaplan and his friend Jamie were crossing the street when a drunk driver hit them. He says the driver has been found, was intoxicated and is cooperating with authorities. Kaplan could barely walk when he was released from the hospital, but he just arrived home to Milwaukee and is getting better.
Jamie is still in the hospital in Thailand. He broke his legs, his pelvis and had internal bleeding. Jamie's friend Tara is staying with him in Thailand. Friends back home are trying to help Jamie, now dealing with at least $55,000 dollars of medical bills in Thailand. Alex Mahrcei is running a GoFundMe page for Jamie.
"The primary goal is to get Tara and Jaime home," said Mahrcei.
As Jamie's medical bills are mounting, Alex says something he learned is any insurance isn't accepted directly by the hospitals in Thailand, only as a reimbursement.
"Thailand works differently. There's no insurance industry; that's something that people need to understand with the GoFundMe. We're not just trying to ask for money. When you go to a hospital in Thailand, you have to cover your whole bill you're hostage to your bills," said Mahrcei.
Mahrcei says the community has already been so generous. People have donated their services to fundraisers and helping to make Jamie's home wheelchair accessible with ramps, but they've only raised about half of the money they'd need to get Jamie home.
"This is a nightmare, but there's a light at the end of the tunnel," said Kaplan.
CBS 58 spoke to travel insurance company Travel Guard, which is BBB accredited.
"Travel insurance is a must-have item when traveling abroad," said Robert Gallagher, COO. "As important as having your passport with you."
Gallagher says you should evaluate your needs and the location of the destination when selecting travel insurance, but some plans have medical coverage that includes a medical evacuation. We did not speak with Travel Guard about their insurance specifically in Thailand.
Jesse Kaplan did have travel insurance, but once again, he said his expenses were reimbursed after the bill was paid.
Again, the GoFundMe page can be found at: https://www.gofundme.com/friends-hit-by-van-in-bangkok
The Better Business Bureau recommends the following steps when purchasing travel insurance:
• Read the fine print. Know exactly what coverage you’re getting and what it includes.
• Comparison shop. What is the difference between buying your travel insurance from an independent travel insurance firm, rather than from your travel agent, the tour operator, cruise line etc. **Always check companies before doing business with a quick and free check at BBB.ORG.
• Costs vary. It’s wise to compare costs before making a final purchase decision.
• Protect yourself further by paying for travel insurance with a charge card.
• Baggage-loss protection may only be necessary if you are carrying more than $2,500 worth of items in your bags. Be sure to check your homeowner’s policy.