Thai Cave Divers Reveal How They Decided Which of the 12 Boys to Rescue First

Updates on the Thai cave rescue are only becoming more and more grizzly, and divers have just revealed how they chose which boys to bring up first.

Experts from around the world gathered at the Tham Luang cave system in Thailand earlier this month, trying to reach 12 boys between the ages of 11 and 16 as well as their 25-year-old soccer coach. All were trapped several kilometers deep in the cave, and the treacherous escape route was flooded from floor to ceiling in some places.

On Monday night, some of the experts that worked on that rescue effort appeared on Australian TV to discuss the details. They went on Four Corners, which is often equated with 60 Minutes in the United states. There, they discussed the many painful decisions that had to be made, as well as the ones that were taken out of their hands.

According to British cave diver Jason Mallinson, the boys, their coach and the Thai Navy SEALs staying with them were left to decide for themselves who would be saved first. He shot down rumors that Dr. Richard "Harry" Harris made the call.

"Harry did not choose them as has been suggested," he assured reporters, according to the New York Post. "So, I think it was their bravest guys that came out first."

Mallinson also described Harris as the "linchpin of the operation," attributing their unbelievable success mostly to him.

"Without him, we wouldn't have been able to do what we did," Mallinson said. "His bedside manner when he was there with the kids and that, talking to them, calming them down and stuff like that."

Many of the military professionals and life-long adventurers on the scene called the conditions in the Tham Luang caves the most dangerous they had ever seen. On Four Corners, they could not overstate how impossible a successful rescue had seemed at the time.

"The probability of success was about as low as you can get," said US Mission Commander Major Charles Hodges. "I was fully expecting that we would accept casualties. Maybe three, four, possibly five would die."

"It's one of the most difficult and dangerous and risky things I've ever done, not in terms of my own personal safety, but in terms of the people I was responsible for," Mallinson said. "I've never done anything as risky as that and I don't think I ever will again. But it was the only option we had, and we took it."

2comments

All 12 boys and their coach were successfully extracted from the cave. They are now being examined closely for signs of trauma or rare infections found in the depths of caves, but reports suggest they are happy and healthy.