ROYAL Navy divers are spearheading a global fundraiser to support the family of a Thai Navy Seal who lost his life rescuing a football team trapped in a cave in Thailand.
Retired Petty Officer Saman Kunan died after suffocating while trying to save 12 trapped boys and their football coach from the Tham Luang Nang Non caves in the unprecedented rescue effort watched by the globe..
The elite diver lost consciousness as he made his way back to safety after delivering air tanks to the group.
His heroics stunned the world and inspired members of the Royal Navy Clearance Divers’ Association to set up fundraiser to honour him.
Within just three days, the effort has generated almost £4,000 and is attracting support from across the globe.
Tony Sexton, membership secretary of the organisation, said he was stunned by the reaction of the public and wider diving community.
Mr Sexton, who used to be based at the defence diving school on Horsea Island, said: ‘I was a mine clearance diver for 16 years and the thought of that dive terrified me. It filled me with dread. There’s no visibility, it’s cold, it’s dark and with only a piece of rope to follow. We're full of admiration for his bravery.
“Petty Officer Saman Gunan was a hero in every sense of the word, he had retired from the navy but on hearing of the plight of the schoolboys turned up and volunteered to undertake a dive very few would. He lost his life trying to help others.’
His job was to deliver oxygen to different locations along the treacherous submerged route that lead to the chamber, some 2.5 miles from the main exit, but sadly he did not have enough himself on his way back.
He had started his dive shortly after 8.30pm and his diving companion tried in vain to revive him in an underground cavern after he passed out, but he was declared dead at 1am in Chamber 3, a staging area for the rescue operation.
Yesterday, the news was broken to the children saved in the rescue operation that Petty Officer Gunan had died. They wept as they paid tribute to the heroic 38-year-old, who remains will be returned to his hometown in Roi Et for a royal-sponsored funeral.
To donate, see rncda.com/cave-rescue-collection