Widow of hero diver who died during Thai cave rescue urges the boys not to blame themselves
The whole world breathed a huge sigh of relief when the 12 school boys and their assistant coach were pulled out of the flooded cave in Thailand completely unharmed, bringing an end to the near three-week ordeal that spurred an international rescue effort. However, the rescue came at a large price.
Saman Kunan, a former Thai Navy SEAL member, died on his way out of the Tham Luang cave complex after going in to supply one of the chambers with oxygen tanks at around 2am on Friday morning. Tragically, it had been his job to deliver oxygen to the cave but he did not have enough for himself on his way out.
Immediately after his death became public knowledge, people around the world began mourning the brave Navy SEAL member - but no tribute was more touching than the one his wife left him on social media.
In a post on Instagram on Jul 7, a day after his death, Kunan's widow, Valeepoan Kunan wrote: : "You'll always be with me ... there's no one like you ... if you're not with me, I don't want to go on breathing ... because we promised each other we would use the same breathe."
In her latest post on Tuesday, she reportedly wrote: "I miss you. I love you so much. I love you like you're my very heart… from now on when I wake up … who will I kiss?"
Now, almost a week after his death, Valeepoan has spoken out again, urging the boys not to blame themselves for his death. Kunan's widow told reporters: "I want to tell the boys, please don't blame yourselves."
Her words are likely to give comfort to the 12 boys who were last seen in a recent video that showed them recovering in isolation at the Chiang Rai Prachanukroh hospital after more than two weeks underground. In the new footage, the children were seen by the public for the first time since their rescue and some of the boys on the soccer team — who range in age from 11 to 16 — are seen sitting up in their hospital beds with masks over their face.
"From our assessment, they are in good condition and not stressed," Thongchai Lertwilairattanapong, an inspector for Thailand’s health department, stated, according to Reuters. "The children were well taken care of in the cave."
Their rescuer Saman lost consciousness after placing their oxygen tanks in the Tham Luang cave complex. His buddy attempted to resuscitate him but this did not work. He then was carried to a chamber where first aid was administered, but he was eventually hospitalised and died.
The head of the rescue mission,Narongsak Osottanakorn, has stated that the world should remember him as the true hero of the 17-day operation. "Saman Kunan is the real hero," Osottanakorn told reporters. "On the day that he passed, the entire team was sad, but we used this sorrow. We saw that he gave his life for this cause."
Rest in peace, Saman Kunan.