Meet the South African diver who helped with the Thai Cave Rescue Mission
Photo Cred: Pexels

A South African advanced diver took time off work to volunteer with the Thai Cave Rescue Mission.


Thailand (11 July 2018) – The world has collectively exhaled a massive sigh of relief after the 12 soccer boys and their coach, who were trapped in flooded caves after heavy rainfall, were all rescued and safely guided to freedom thanks to an incredible team… which included a South African diver!

In June and July 2018, a junior association football team was rescued from the Tham Luang Nang Non cave in Chiang Rai Province in northern Thailand. Twelve members of the team, aged eleven to sixteen, and their 25-year-old assistant coach entered the cave on 23 June after a football practice session. Shortly thereafter, heavy rainfall partially flooded the cave system, blocking their way out, and trapping them deep within.

Efforts to locate the group were hampered by rising water levels and strong currents, and no contact was made for nearly two weeks. The cave rescue effort expanded into a massive operation amid intense worldwide public interest and involved international rescue teams.

Divers eventually found the 12 young players and their coach – hungry and huddled in darkness on a muddy bank in a partly flooded chamber about 4 kilometres inside the caves last week Monday – 2 July 2018 – but combined efforts between multiple countries took place to execute an effective rescue mission.

One of those divers was South African Leandro Nicolas Gerardo, who was originally born in Argentina but grew up in Pinetown, South Africa.

Leandro Nicolas Gerardo | Photo Cred: Supplied

Leandro, who currently lives in Bangkok, heard about the ordeal and immediately took time off work to fly over to volunteer as a rescue diver.

Dwayne Saunders, a fellow Pinetown Boys High Schooler, took to social media to thank his friend.

“Would just like to give a massive shout out to one of my best mates Leandro Nicolas Gerardo , his team and the rest of the people involved with helping retrieve all the Thai Football Kids and their Coach safely from the flooded Cave in Thailand, that has been on the News all around the world the last few days!

Saunders explained that the advanced diver and his team were in charge of chamber 3, a section which was 2,5km deep into the cave with extremely dangerous caverns. The team had to pass oxygen bottles and the stretchers with the boys on and help get it to the next section safely.

The rescue took three days, where they tirelessly worked getting four kids out on the first day, four on the third day and the final five on the last day, where they finished around 6 pm (all whilst facing the massive risk of more flooding).

“Once again to you and all involved my Boy, you are true legends! My prayers go out to the whole football team, coach and especially the family of the Navy Seal that gave his life to saving them.


His sister, Lucia Gerardo-Schefermann, also took to Facebook to share how proud she was of her brother.

“PROUD is an understatement! My brother is an absolute legend. Well done to Leandro and every person involved in that intense rescue operation.

In the words of Jack- “Uncle Leo is so brave, like a superhero”

We love you champ!”

The rescue team | Photo Cred: Facebook

Sources: Facebook 
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Recognised as one of the Mail and Guardian’s Top 200 Young South African’s as well as a Primedia LeadSA Hero, Brent is a change maker, thought leader, radio host, foodie, vlogger, writer and all round good guy.

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