BANGKOK- An Australian doctor, who was the last man out of the Thai cave after successfully rescuing a young Thai football team, got sad news about his father’s death shortly after the rescue mission.
Richard Harris, a world-renowned Anaesthetist and diver, was part of an Australian contingent which rescued a group of 13 trapped in a flooded underground chamber for two week.
Harris, who is also known as Harry to loved ones, was specially requested by experts to become part of the team and he jetted in to Thailand by cancelling his holidays plan to get the youngsters out of the Tham Luang cave.
Australian media said he put his own life at risk to venture four kilometres (2.5 miles) into the flooded cave to medically assess the 12 boys and their coach each day after they were found, giving final approval on their fitness to be taken out.
Broadcaster ABC said it was also Harris who decided in what order they should leave, in an operation that culminated in joy on Tuesday when Thailand’s Navy SEALs declared the whole team was safely out, 18 days after the ordeal began.
Harris was reportedly the last persons came out of the cave late on Tuesday as the soccer team was shifted to hospital.
Amid the happy ending of the rescue mission, the Adelaide-based medic learned that his father had died.
“It is with great sadness that I confirm that Harry’s dad passed away last night a short time after the successful rescue operation in Thailand,” said Andrew Pearce, head of clinical services at SAAS MedSTAR, where Harris works.
Pearce further said, “It has been a tumultuous week with highs and lows. We are delighted that Harry and the boys are safe and that he was able to play such a remarkable role in the Australian response”.
“Harry is a quiet and kind man who did not think twice about offering his support on this mission,” he added.
On Tuesday, all members of a youth football team and their coach were rescued successfully from a cave in northern Thailand, bringing an end to a days-long operation that made headlines across the world.
Four remaining boys and their 25-year-old coach Ekapol Chantawong emerged from the Tham Luang cave complex in the final leg of the operation after eight of their teammates had already been saved earlier.
“Twelve Wild Boars [team members] and their coach are out of the cave,” the Thai Navy SEALs said on Facebook.
The first boy to exit the cave on Tuesday came out on 16:06 local time (09:06 GMT), Thai Navy SEALs said and nearly three hours later, the coach was reported to have emerged from the cave.