One of the hero rescue divers that helped save 12 soccer players and their coach from a flooded Thai cave last year has been dramatically rescued from an underwater cave in the US after going missing.
British diver Josh Bratchley joined the worldwide team of expert divers in helping to save the boys from Tham Luang Cave in Thailand last year, and was later awarded with a Pride of Britain Award for his efforts.
However, fears for the diver rose on Wednesday and a rescue operation in Jackson County was launched after he went missing, ABC News reported.
Bratchley had been diving at the Mill Pond Cave but later disappeared, the Jackson County Emergency Management Agency reportedly said. He had been on a trip there with other divers from the UK to explore the underwater cave.
The agency’s public information officer Ethan Burris reportedly told the news outlet that the group had been staying in the area for two to three days before the dive.
“There had been previous mapping of the cave by Tennessee Tech University and there (were) some air pockets that had been identified, I believe, previously that the diver was aware of so it’s a very good possibility that he would seek that out once he found himself in distress,” Jackson County EMA Public Information Officer Derek Woolbright reportedly added in a news conference.
According to Hamilton County Rescue Squad Lt. Brian Krebs, the dive was thought to be 400 feet along a tight passage. Bratchley had reportedly been laying guidelines when his group noticed he was missing.
“The group made an additional dive attempt to locate the missing individual prior to contacting 911. This attempt was unsuccessful in locating him,” Burris added.
However, ABC News reports he has since been rescued, with Bill Whitehouse of the British Cave Rescue Council saying that he’s “in good health and good spirits”.
Bratchley, along with several other diving heroes, was widely praised last year for his part in the dramatic Thai cave rescue.
The soccer team became trapped four kilometres into the cave after heading in as a rite of passage. The team originally set off for their adventure on June 23 and the international rescue mission began on July 2 – more than a week after they vanished. Flash floods had made it nearly impossible for the team to escape the cave. They were eventually led out by the divers one by one, with all of the team surviving.