A Thai diver perished while taking part in operations to rescue 12 boys and their soccer coach who had been trapped in a flooded cave in Thailand.
The boys had been trapped in a complex cave system in Chiang Rai in northern Thailand since June 23.
Saman Kunan, 38, was an elite diver. His death underscores the difficulty and complexity of rescuing the 12 boys, ages 11-16, and their 25-year-old coach. Many of the boys reportedly did not know how to swim and did not have experience using scuba equipment. The journey from outside to where the boys were stuck took about six hours, according to The New York Times.
All of the boys and their coach have successfully been rescued.
Saman’s diving partner found him unconscious and tried to resuscitate him, but attempts were unsuccessful. Kunan’s body was repatriated to his home province of Roi Et, where received a royal-sponsored funeral, according to The Evening Standard.
This is former Petty Officer Saman Gunan, 38 years old, former diver with the Thai Navy who died early this morning returning from the cave where the boys are stranded. He will have a full military funeral. More details @BBCr4today #Thamluangcave pic.twitter.com/j7TkTjP1Oq
— Dan Johnson (@DanJohnsonNews) July 6, 2018
True heroes go toward danger to help others in need without regard for their own safety! This brave soul gave his life helping in the effort to free young boys from a deep dark cave.
He resigned from the Thai Navy but kept in touch with his comrades. His sense of duty made him respond to help out on a voluntary basis. Ironically, and tragically, he ran out of air while underwater bringing them oxygen so that they could live!
In Memoriam Saman Kunan
Thai Navy SEALS posted a tribute to the diver, mourning his death. The post reads:
He resigned from the military and had worked as a patrol officer at the Suvarnabhumi Airport since 2006. He was a very capable SEAL and a triathlete who liked adventure sports. Although he resigned from the unit, he still loved and had a good connection with all the SEALs. … Even the last part of his life, 1st Petty Officer Saman left us and this world while working with the SEAL brothers who are also trying to go forward and complete the mission as planned.
His determination and good intention will always be in the heart of all SEAL brothers. Today, you get some good rest. We will complete the mission for you.
“I want to tell you honey you are the hero in my heart”
Saman Gunan's wife and father tell us about the man who died helping the 12 missing boys and their coach trapped in a cave in Thailand pic.twitter.com/CzFd61MXhM
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) July 9, 2018
Rest in peace, Saman…we honor your brave sacrifice. You died following your heart and true passion to help others!
– Rose Borisow