One of the 12 boys who were rescued from a flooded cave in Thailand in 2018 after being trapped for more than two weeks has died in England, where he was attending a sports academy, the foundation that paid for his education said Wednesday.
The Thai Zico Foundation said that Duangphet “Dom” Phromthep, 17, was found unconscious in his room at the Brooke House College Football Academy in Leicestershire on Sunday. He was taken to a hospital, where he died on Tuesday. The school also said that he had died. School principal Ian Smith said in a statement –
“This event has left our college community deeply saddened and shaken.”
“We unite in grief with all of Dom’s family, friends, former teammates and those involved in all parts of his life, as well as everyone affected in any way by this loss in Thailand and throughout the college’s global family.”
The head of the Zico Foundation, former Thai national team captain and coach Kiatisuk Senamuang, said in an online news conference that he did not know the cause of death and that Dom had apparently been in good health.
Dom was the leader of a youth soccer team in Chiang Rai, Thailand, called the Wild Boars. In June 2018, twelve kids ages 11 to 16 and their coach were exploring the Tham Luang cave complex when quickly rising floodwaters trapped them. Divers from all over the world took part in a huge search and rescue operation.
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The boys were lost in the cave for nine nights and had very little food and water. A diver found them huddled on a patch of dirt above the rising water line, deep in the twisting cave complex. The moment was caught on video and showed to the whole world soon after.
It took another eight days before everyone was brought to safety. After putting them under anesthesia to keep them calm enough to be moved, a team of expert divers helped each boy out of the cave on a special stretcher.
Divers had to move through dark, narrow, twisting passageways with muddy water and strong currents while carrying oxygen canisters along the path.
Dom’s mother joined the online news conference and said she hoped a Buddhist monk in England could perform rites for Dom so that, according to Buddhist beliefs, his spirit wouldn’t be stuck where he died.
The story of the Wild Boars, which was heavily covered by media around the world, has been told in several movies, such as Ron Howard’s “Thirteen Lives” in 2022 and “The Rescue” in 2021.