In 2018, a soccer team of 12 boys and their assistant coach became trapped in a cave in Thailand when heavy rainfall flooded the system and their exit.
The real-life rescue mission to save them is dramatized in the new Netflix limited series Thai Cave Rescue, which was created by Michael Russell Gunn and Dana Ledoux Miller.
In Thai Cave Rescue, the focus is different from Ron Howard’s Thirteen Lives, as it highlights the effort put in by everyone involved in the rescue mission, including some 100 divers.
Where are the Thai Cave Rescue Divers Now and What Happened to Them?
British divers John Volanthen and Rick Stanton were the two divers who first discovered the 12 boys and their coach in the cave system.
On July 8, 2018, a rescue team made up of 13 international cave divers and five Thai Navy SEALs made their way to the group to help them get out of the cave.
Brits Volanthen, Stanton, Jason Mallinson and Chris Jewell, and Australian divers Richard Harris and Craig Challen led the mission.
Volanthen cave dives as a hobby and serves as a rescue volunteer, and his day-to-day job is as an IT consultant in Bristol, England.
Stanton is also a rescue volunteer and civilian diver, he was previously a firefighter for the West Midlands Fire Service for 25 years. Both he and Volanthen are part of the British Cave Rescue Council, as is Jewell.
Speaking to CNN about the rescue missions in January 2022, Stanton said he was not “declaring it a miracle.”
“I’ll stretch it to say that it was miraculous that all these things happened sequentially,” Stanton said. “It was a collaboration between thousands of people, it was exceptional planning. It was miraculous that everything happened, but I’m not declaring it a miracle.”
In July 2022, Volanthen and Stanton were awarded honorary degrees from the University of Bristol.
Linda Wilson, vice president of the University of Bristol’s Spelaeological Society, said in a press statement: “No one could better exemplify the values this university prizes – resilience, courage and outstanding skills – than Rick and John, who were to save the lives of so many others, while risking their own lives, daily, for the 15 days of this enormous rescue effort that held the world’s attention.”
Mallinson is a diver and explorer, and he was also awarded an honorary doctorate from Huddersfield University in July 2019.
In December 2018, Stanton and Volanthen were awarded the George Medal and Jewell and Mallinson were awarded the Queen’s Gallantry Medal by the late Queen Elizabeth II.
Harris played a vital role in the rescue effort as he conducted a medical assessment of all of the boys and their coach when he made it into the cave and, on his medical advice, he ruled it safe for them to be rescued by the team using anesthesia to give them the best hope of surviving.
Harris and his dive partner Challen were jointly awarded 2019 Australian of the Year following the success of their rescue efforts.
Thai Cave Rescue is out on Netflix now.