A South African advanced diver took time off work to volunteer with the Thai Cave Rescue Mission.
The world has collectively exhaled a massive sigh of relief after the 12 soccer boys and their coach, who were trapped in flooded caves after heavy rainfall, were all rescued and safely guided to freedom.
Divers found the 12 young players and their coach – hungry and huddled in darkness on a muddy bank in a partly flooded chamber about 4 kilometres inside the caves last week Monday – 2 July 2o18 – but combined efforts between multiple countries took place to execute an effective rescue mission.
One of those divers was South African – Leandro Nicolas Gerardo – who was originally born in Argentina but grew up in Pinetown, South Africa.
Leandro, who currently lives in Bangkok, heard about the ordeal and immediately took time off work to fly over to volunteer as a rescue diver.
The advanced diver and his team were in charge of chamber 3, a section which was 2,5km deep into the cave with extremely dangerous caverns. The team had to pass oxygen bottles and the stretchers with the boys on and help get it to the next section safely.
The rescue took 3 days, where they tirelessly worked getting four kids out the first day, four on the third day and the final five on the last day where they finished around 6pm (all whilst facing the massive risk of more flooding).
Dwayne Saunders, a fellow Pinetown Boys High Schooler took to social media to thank his friend.
“Would just like to give a massive shout out to one of my best mates Leandro Nicolas Gerardo , his team and the rest of the people involved with helping retrieve all the Thai Football Kids and their Coach safely from the flooded Cave in Thailand, that has been on the News all around the world the last few days!
Once again to you and all involved my Boy, you are true legends! My prayers go out to the whole football team, coach and especially the family of the Navy Seal that gave his life to saving them.
His sister, Lucia Gerardo-Schefermann, also took to Facebook to share how proud she was of her brother.
“PROUD is an understatement! My brother is an absolute legend. Well done to Leandro and every person involved in that intense rescue operation.
In the words of Jack- “Uncle Leo is so brave, like a superhero”
We love you champ!”