Supermodel Petra Nemcova: A world-renowned Czech supermodel — you may recognize her from the cover of the 2003 Sports Illustrated or the Victoria’s Secret catwalk — is reportedly coming to Thailand in December to search for the Thai men who helped her during the 2004 tsunami as well as the baby girl she witnessed being born during the catastrophe.
Independent Thai filmmaker Pokchonn Dissayabutra yesterday wrote a lengthy Facebook post asking netizens to help 39-year-old model Petra Němcová look for her heroes, the premise of an upcoming documentary about her experience during Thailand’s worst-ever natural catastrophe.
Pokchonn, who claims to have assisted Nemcova in several trips to Thailand in the past two decades, told Coconuts Bangkok this afternoon that she is in charge of tracking down the heroes as the production manager for the documentary.
“I really didn’t think my Facebook post was going to become news. I just needed help from locals,” Pokchonn told us.
On Dec. 26, 2004, Petra and her British fashion photographer fiance, Simon Atlee, had just returned to their resort during a joyful Christmas vacation when they heard screams and people running frantically outside, reported the Telegraph.
This was followed a colossal tidal wave crashing into shore with monstrous force, smashing into buildings, washing away their belongings and separating the couple.
That was the last time Nemcova saw her husband-to-be — until his corpse was discovered several weeks later, along with an estimated 280,000 other victims.
During the aftermath of the catastrophe, the supermodel, reportedly, clung to a palm tree for dear life as objects carried by wave after wave kept crashing into her.
Pokchonn explained in her post that Nemcova fractured her pelvis in four different spots and suffered internal bleeding in her abdomen and uterus.
Her psychological health wasn’t much better since all she saw for hours were broken homes and floating corpses.
Nemcova is now looking for: the Thai man who spotted her in a palm tree and got people to help bring her down after the water receded, the male patient in the hospital bed next to her who calmed her down and gave her his Buddhist pendant when she was in panic, and a baby girl named “Tsunami” that was born the day of the catastrophe.
Where exactly Tsunami, who should be 14-years-old this year, was born wasn’t specified.
According to the documentary outline that Pokchonn sent us, this experience transformed Nemcova from a “girl who only cared about herself and her career” into “someone who spends all her time helping others.”
In 2005, Nemcova founded Happy Hearts Fund (HHF), a charitable organization with the mission to rebuild and renew schools affected by natural disasters. Since then, 208 schools have been rebuilt in 10 countries including Thailand, Indonesia, and Haiti
The supermodel also currently serves on the advisory board of Glamour’s Women of the Year Fund.
Since the Facebook post, Pokchonn says she’s received many tips from locals. She is currently in the process of verifying their claims.
We will be sure to keep you posted when the heroes have been found.