There was a global sigh of relief yesterday when the 12 boys and their coach who were trapped in a cave in Thailand were safely rescued.
It has come to light that a brave man living in Ireland played a major role in their rescue and has now spoken out about the ordeal.
The hero hails from Belgium but has been living in Ennis, Co. Clare since 2004, where he used to work as a diving instructor in Kilkee.
He is a member of the Irish Cave Rescue Organisation and responded to the call for help put out by the British Cave Rescue Council, flying out to join the rescue efforts on Friday.
Clare councillor Mary Howard took to Facebook to praise him saying that the Lufthansa staff member, “risked his life and his health, risked his own son losing his father, so he could bring 12 boys and an adult back to their families.”
“A close family friend today told me, ‘Jim did not hesitate for a moment when he was called to help rescue the Thai group stranded in a cave,” she continued.
“Jim have a safe journey home to your friends and family who miss you (especially Ciaran) and we are all humbled by your selflessness, thank you,” her post finished.
Following the successful mission he posted on Facebook to say, “Thank you everyone for the messages and posts.”
“As all of you I’m very happy the boys are safe.”
“My condolences go out to the family of Petty Officer First Class Saman Gunan,” he posted paying his respects to the only death to come out of the incident.
The Belgian continued, “It was an honour to been given the opportunity to join the team to do this.”
“This rescue was an amazing collaborative journey involved many organisations and people from all over the world.”
“Can I ask everyone to take it easy on the press front, there will be a time and a place for this soon,” he said before finishing with, “Please give us some tme to recover.”
People around the globe updated their newsfeeds waiting for good news with bated breath yesterday as the rescue mission neared completion.
It may be too early to call it but we think he’s a serious contender for Clare’s Person Of The Year award in 2019.
Aoibhín Garrihy’s husband, John Burke, received the accolade this year after becoming the first person from Clare to reach the summit of Mount Everest.