Father Of Australian Thai Cave Doctor Dies On Night Of Rescue
Dr Richard Harris has emerged from the Thai cave to tragic news of his father's death.
Australian doctor Richard Harris, who heroically helped to save 13 lives in a Thailand cave, is now grieving his father's death.
Dr Harris' boss, Dr Andrew Pearce, said his father died on Tuesday night, a short time after the successful mission that freed 12 boys and their soccer coach from Tham Luang Cave.
“I have spoken with Harry. This is clearly a time of grief for the Harris family, magnified by the physical and emotional demands of being part of this week's highly complex and ultimately successful operation," Pearce, the director of South Australia's emergency medical retrieval service MedSTAR, said in a statement.
“He will be home soon and taking some well-earned time off to be with his family.”
Dr Harris, an anaeshetist from Adelaide, was part of a team of 20 Australians who were involved in the Thai-led rescue effort.
Internationally renowned for his expertise in cave rescues, he assessed the boys' health and gave the green light for the operation to go ahead last Saturday.
Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop said Dr Harris was integral to the rescue attempt.
"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 ... fortunately he was able to go to Chiang Rai and be part of the rescue," she told the ABC.
Before each stage, Dr Harris entered the cave to check on the boys' condition and readiness for their treacherous journey ahead.
He has been credited for administering a mild sedative to each of the boys as they were rescued, and is believed to have been the last person out of the cave after the final five were brought to safety on Tuesday night.
“Harry is a quiet and kind man who did not think twice about offering his support on this mission,” Dr Pearce said.
"It has been a tumultuous week with highs and lows. We are delighted that Harry and the boys are safe and that he was able to play such a remarkable role in the Australian response."
Minister Bishop said she hopes all of the Australians involved will be formally recognised for their efforts.
"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."