The father of the Australian doctor who helped rescue the Thai soccer team died while his son saved 13 lives

Facebook/ Richard HarrisDr Richard Harris

  • Dr Richard Harris played an integral role in assessing the health of the trapped Thai players and coach.
  • He determined in what order the team would come out, based on their health.
  • Shortly after the rescue operation was complete he learned his father had died.
  • He plans to return home to take some time off to be with his family.

The father of the Australian doctor who helped rescue the Thai soccer team trapped in a cave died on the same night his son helped free the last of the players.

Adelaide anaesthetist Richard Harris was called in to assist in the rescue at Chiang Rai based on his diving expertise and medical knowledge, and had been involved in determining when each boy would swim out of the cave.

The ABC reports that Harris and three Navy SEALS were the last out of the cave following the rescue of the 12 boys and their coach, emerging several hours after the last of the soccer team.

It was “a short time after the successful rescue operation” that Harris learned of his father’s death, according to Dr Andrew Pearce, Director of Clinical Services at MEDStar.

“This is clearly a time of grief for the Harris family, magnified by the physical and emotional demands of being a part of this week’s highly complex and ultimately success rescue operation,” he said.

“He will be coming home soon and taking some well-earned time off to be with his family.”

Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop told the ABC that Harris played “an integral part of the rescue attempt” and is “internationally renowned for his expertise in cave rescues”.

“He was specifically identified by the British diving team as an expert whose skills would be required and he was asked for at the highest levels within the Thai Government and fortunately he was able to go to Chiang Rai and be part of the rescue,” she said.

“Dr Harris’ role has been quite extraordinary and I’m hoping that we’ll be in a position to thank all of our rescue team when they return to Australia.”

Harris was part of a team of 20 Australians involved in rescue effort, which included six Federal Police divers, a Navy clearance diver and members of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Crisis Rescue Team.

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