Wednesday, 17 Jul 2024

Captain of Thai football team trapped in cave took his own life

Tragedy of Thai football team captain: Boy, 17, who was rescued from cave in mission that gripped the world took his own life in dormitory at UK football academy five years later

  • For help and support call the Samaritans on 116 123 or go to samaritans.org 

The captain of a Thai football team which became trapped in a cave for nine days in 2018 after being caught out by flooding took his own life while at a football academy in the UK five years later, a coroner has ruled.

Duangphet Phromthep, also known as Dom, died at Kettering General Hospital on February 14, two days after being found unconscious at Brooke House College in Market Harborough, Leicestershire.

Following an inquest into the 17-year-old’s death on October 4 at Leicester Coroner’s Court, Professor Catherine Mason, senior coroner for Leicester City and South Leicestershire, recorded a conclusion of suicide.

In a record of the inquest, Prof Mason said: ‘Mr Phromthep was not known to mental health services, and it is not known why he took the actions that he did.

‘It could not have been foreseen or prevented.

Duangphet Phromthep, also known as Dom, died at Kettering General Hospital on February 14

He was captain of a Thai football team that became trapped in an underground cave system in 2018, triggering an international search and rescue operation

Duangpetch ‘Dom’ Promthep (right) filmed by rescuers in the cave after he and his teammates were found

‘The police investigation has found no evidence of third-party involvement or suspicious circumstances.’

Dom previously gained worldwide attention as the captain of The Wild Boars, or Moo Pa in Thai, football team.

The team became trapped in the Tham Luang cave system in 2018 after a sudden storm caused flooding which blocked the exit, triggering an international effort to resuce them.

The boys, then aged between 11 and 16, and their 25-year-old coach spent nine days in darkness without food before they were found by searchers, part of a team of around 10,000 people who assisted in the operation.

Dom turned 13 while trapped in the cave, and images of the boys were broadcast across the world after they were finally found safe by specialist rescue teams.

Each boy had to be sedated and removed by a team of divers one at a time before being taken to hospital.

They left hospital a few weeks later after some contracted lung infections while they were trapped.

In March Dom’s friends and family gathered to bid an emotional farewell to the teenager, who was hailed as a ‘natural leader’ with a promising footballing career ahead of him.

A shrine to Dom at Wat Phra That Doi Wao in Chiang Rai, Thailand, was decorated with 17 footballs to represent each of his years of life.

Dom’s relatives greeted him as he arrived home after his ordeal in the flooded cave

The boys and their coach were trapped in the cave system for nine days 

A shrine to Dom at Wat Phra That Doi Wao in Chiang Rai, Thailand, was decorated with 17 footballs to represent each of his years of life

They were guided out by a team of expert divers in a rescue that grabbed global attention

Family members of Duangphet Phromthep cry during a funeral ceremony at Wat Phra That Doi Wao temple in Chiang Rai province in Thailand

In March Dom’s friends and family gathered to bid an emotional farewell to the teenager, who was hailed as a ‘natural leader’ with a promising footballing career ahead of him 

In a statement on Friday, Ian Smith, the school’s principal, said its community ‘remains united in grief’ over Dom’s death and that he will be ‘hugely missed’.

He said: ‘As a college, the health, wellbeing and welfare of our students is our absolute priority.

‘This was reflected in our recent ISI [Independent Schools Inspectorate] safeguarding inspection from April 2023, which confirmed pupils know they have many people they can speak to, that they would be confident to do so if they felt any concerns and they know those concerns would be acted on if they did raise them.

‘The coroner also acknowledged the entire college community for the high quality of our student care, welfare & safeguarding and noted this tragic incident sadly could not have been foreseen nor prevented.

‘We have robust safeguarding systems in place which enable us to provide appropriate support for students when needed, and we keep these systems under constant review so that we can do everything possible to provide the necessary support to every child.

‘Since this tragedy, our dedicated pastoral team has continued to provide support to students and colleagues.

‘We have continued to liaise closely with the Royal Thai Embassy and other agencies to enable the family’s wishes to be carried out, and we ask for continued privacy and compassion for all affected by his loss.

‘Dom will always remain a part of the Brooke House family and will be hugely missed.’

Members of the Thai Wild Boards football team and their coach Ekapol Chantawong appeared for interviews across the world after their harrowing ordeal

Members of the Royal Thai Navy assist during the complex rescue operation, which saw each player sedated before being removed from the cave

The rescue operation involved around 10,000 people due to the highly specialised teams and support personnel needed

Each of those trapped was stretchered through the cave system during the long rescue mission

At his funeral, Dom’s mother, Thanaporn Phromthep, said: ‘He got to play football. He wanted to go abroad and he got that. Thank you for the opportunities that allowed him to live out his dreams. 

‘Dom was an easygoing kid. He lived simply, ate simply. He didn’t take himself too seriously and was a happy going person. He passed away peacefully.’ 

Duangphet’s head coach, Nopparat Khanthavong said: ‘He had a passion for playing football and was very focused and determined. 

‘He was a natural leader. He was focused in training and was an example to his friends and the younger boys.

‘He went on tryouts and received a scholarship to study in England, which was the last place he got to go.

‘It was a dream of his to play football overseas.’

For help and support call the Samaritans on 116 123 or go to samaritans.org 

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