A late-night swim ended in tragedy early Tuesday morning, when 22-year-old Netanya native Ariel Soriano was electrocuted in a pool on the Thai island of Ko Phangan.
Soriano, who was described by family friend Dan Dobri as a "lovely kid, really responsible and full of life," was halfway through a one-month vacation in Thailand after being released from the army a year ago. He had planned to study business and economics upon his return to Israel.
Soriano and his friends had come back from a party at 4 a.m. to Friendly Bungalows, the resort on Ko Phangan's Sunset Beach where they were staying.
Although the pool was closed and there was a sign on the grounds warning against swimming at night, Soriano and his friends entered it anyway.
A cable connected to a pool-cleaning machine fell into the water, and though Soriano's friends were also swimming, he was the only one electrocuted.
"His friends were in the pool with him, but he was closest to the wire," said Dobri, who had spoken earlier with Soriano's friends. "So Ariel took the brunt of the shock. And it took them about a minute to get out of the pool, because they had to disconnect the electricity; it didn't turn off automatically, so they couldn't touch the side of the pool."
Soriano's friends had to run into town to find a doctor.
According to one doctor at a Ko Phangan hospital, some resorts have had private ambulances stationed at large parties in case of emergencies, but since Soriano was electrocuted so late at night, he went without medical treatment for more than half an hour.
"We close the pool at night, so there weren't people around," said Bendi, a worker at Friendly Bungalows.
Dr. Kitti Sak, a doctor at a nearby clinic, was eventually brought to Soriano, whose face had turned purple from a lack of oxygen.
"I determined that he was brain-dead at the pool, since he wasn't responding to light," Sak said.
Soriano was then transported on a stretcher in a tuk-tuk - a motorized cart - to Sak's clinic.
"We used adrenaline for about 40 minutes," Sak said. "But there was nothing we could do. We pronounced him dead at that point."
Soriano was taken to the Ko Phangan government hospital for an autopsy, according to an official at the hospital.
Sak said that he had never heard of an incident like this before, at Friendly Bungalows or elsewhere.
"It's a normal bungalow and a normal pool. And I think it was an accident," he said.
Rabbi Nechemia Wilhelm, director of the Chabad House in Bangkok, said that a Chabad undertaker would oversee the preparation and transferring of Soriano's body to Israel.
Dobri said that the Foreign Ministry hoped to have Soriano's body back in Israel by Wednesday morning.
Soriano's friends, who had planned to stay in Thailand for two more weeks, were due to arrive in Israel on Tuesday morning.
Ko Phangan is a popular destination for Israelis vacationing after the army. The area is best known for its monthly Full Moon parties, when 10,000 to 20,000 backpackers converge on the beaches in Thailand's southern gulf.