Diver in Thai cave rescue says the bravest boys were likely rescued first

Four of the 13 rescued Thai soccer players wave as they recover in the hospital.

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Four of the 13 rescued Thai soccer players wave as they recover in the hospital.
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Channel News Asia/Screenshot

  • An Australian diver who helped rescue 12 Thai soccer players and their coach from a flooded cave said it was likely the bravest boys were rescued first.
  • It was previously reported the weakest boys came out first.
  • But diver Craig Challen said the decision was not made by medical experts, and instead was left up to the Thai Navy SEALS, the team’s coach, and the boys themselves.

An Australian diver who was part of the efforts to free 12 Thai soccer players and their coach from a flooded cave said it was likely the bravest boys who were rescued first.

Craig Challen, along with his diving partner Richard Harris, were among the team of international divers who were instrumental in the rescue mission which brought an entire soccer team to safety. Harris medically assessed each boy prior to their rescue, and it had been widely reported that the weakest boys were selected to exit the caves first.

But Challen told Australian television program Four Corners that it was likely the bravest boys who left first.

Dr. Craig Challen on Australian television program Four Corners.

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Dr. Craig Challen on Australian television program Four Corners.
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Australian Broadcast Corporation/Screenshot

“Harry [Richard Harris] did not choose them, as has been suggested. So I think it was their bravest guys that came out first,” he said.

Challen also said it was ultimately up to the boys, the coach, and the Thai Navy SEALS as to who left first.

“We told them what was going to happen and said you choose your best men, and out they come. So, it was nothing to do with us,” he said.

Challen and Harris were reportedly given diplomatic immunity in case anything went wrong during the dangerous rescue operation.

The boys and their 25-year-old coach are in good health and are recovering in hospital, where they will likely remain until Thursday.