British man dies after firework accident in Thailand

By Emma Bowden, PA

A British man has died in Thailand after a firework reportedly exploded in his face during New Year’s Eve celebrations.

Local police said Gary McLaren, 50, was killed when a firework he was trying to light exploded during a visit to the resort town of Pattaya.

He died at the scene shortly after midnight, according to reports.

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said it was supporting the family.

Lt Col Somboon Ua-samanmaitree, from the Thai Tourist Police, told the BBC: “Around midnight, Mr McLaren attempted to light up a large firework but it failed to go off at first.

“After that, it suddenly exploded and killed him at the scene.”

Mr McLaren’s friends were seen crying at the scene, where a large firework was found and taken for evidence, the Bangkok Post reported.

Police told the BBC that Mr McLaren, from Northamptonshire, had visited Thailand before and had arrived a few days prior to New Year’s Eve.

MotoGP paid tribute to Mr McLaren – who worked for the International Road-Racing Teams Association (IRTA) – in a tweet on Wednesday.

“Terrible news this morning. Our colleague and friend, Gary McLaren from IRTA passed away last night,” it said.

“Our thoughts are with his loved ones. He will be sorely missed.”

For 11 years, Mr McLaren worked as a data acquisition engineer for the Suzuki MotoGP Team, who also expressed their condolences to his family.

They tweeted: “We are very shocked and sad to learn of the death of Gary McLaren. Gary worked as a Data Acquisition Engineer at Suzuki for 11 years, and remained a good friend to us all while he continued working in the paddock for IRTA.

“Our thoughts with his loved ones, we’ll really miss him!”