Canadian man shot in Thailand, in stable condition

An Ontario man is in stable but serious condition in a Thai hospital Wednesday after being shot in the back while on holiday with his wife.

An Ontario man is in stable but serious condition in a Thai hospital Wednesday after being shot in the back while on holiday with his wife.

Erik Griffioen, seen in his passport photo, was shot while riding in an open cab in Thailand. ((CBC))

Erik Griffioen, 49, is in the McCormick Hospital in the city of Chiang Mai, about 700 kilometres north of Bangkok.

Griffioen and his wife Elizabeth Ling were travelling in an open-sided taxi Wednesday morning when he suddenly slumped forward, Ling told CBC News. They had just checked out of their hotel, the luxury Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi, and were on their way to join a three-day elephant riding and hiking trek.

Ling said they were in the taxi for about five minutes when they both heard a loud bang. Both believed the tires had exploded, she said.

The taxi rushed them to the hospital, where Griffioen spent much of Wednesday having surgery for multiple injuries. He is in stable but serious condition.

A Thai investigator examines the vehicle the man and his wife were riding in when he was shot. ((CBC))

"He's stable, he's talking, he's quite comfortable with his pain medications," said Ling. "He did have surgery for about seven hours for multiple injuries, but it looks like everything's going to be OK."

Police said the shooting was accidental and didn't originate from anyone else in the vehicle. They said they don't have any leads and have made no arrests.

Hospital doctors say the angle of the bullet wound suggests he was shot from up high, possibly from a highrise building.

The couple had been sitting with their backs to the street while in the taxi. Used commonly for public transport in Thailand, the vehicles, called songtao, have open windows and covered bench seating in the back.

Ling said it appeared to be a random shooting, telling CBC News she doesn't believe they were a target. The pair, who live in Dundas, Ont., are under police protection.

The shooting happened near the luxury Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi hotel. ((CBC))

"Right now it appears to be a random shooting," she said. "They want to make sure, because of the past shootings going on, that this is not targeted to tourists."

She praised officials from the Canadian consulate in Chiang Mai, saying they have been at the hospital all day and said hospital staff have been "bending over backwards" to help.

Ling said everyone they've met in Thailand has been "gracious and friendly" and she would have no problems returning to the country.

Griffioen is the fourth Canadian to be shot in Thailand in recent weeks.

Canadian oil worker Dale Henry was shot and killed at his home in the country earlier this month. His wife of five years, her lover and an alleged hit man have been arrested in his killing.

In January, Leo John Del Pinto of Calgary was shot to death by an off-duty police officer in northern Thailand. His friend Carly Reisig was shot and injured in the incident.