- Soe Zeya Tun/Reuters
- A British diver who helped save a Thai soccer team from a flooded cave had to himself be rescued after getting stuck in an underground cave in Tennessee.
- Diver Josh Bratchley was part of a team of UK-based divers who aided the rescue of 12 Thai school boys and their soccer coach from the flooded Tham Luang cave last summer.
- Bratchley was healthy and in good spirits even after spending more than a day underground.
- Rescuers told reporters that his expertise, and ability to stay calm while trapped, likely saved his life.
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Rescuer turned rescuee this week as a British diver involved in saving the trapped Thai soccer team last year needed the help of emergency services himself when he got trapped in a cave in Tennessee, The Guardian reported.
Josh Bratchley was rescued on Wednesday after spending more than a day underground. Bratchley was part of the British cave diving team that helped in the high profile rescue of 12 Thai school boys and their soccer coach from the flooded Tham Luang cave last summer.
He had explored a cave in Jackson County, Tennessee on Tuesday, but failed to return to surface with the rest of his group at around 3.00 p.m. His fellow divers alerted 911 at 1.00 a.m. the next morning.
The Jackson County Emergency Management Agency said that specialized divers from Arkansas and Florida had to be flown in to help with the “highly technical issue,” CNN reported.
This NBC News video shows the moment the expert diver was brought to safety that same evening.
The expert diver was awake, alert, and oriented, EMA spokesman Derek Woolbright said a press conference.
“His only request when he got to the surface was that he wanted some pizza,” Woolbright said, according to The Guardian.
Edd Sorenson, a veteran technical cave diver, told journalists that he found Bratchley waiting in the mud with his gear off, NBC reported. The British diver’s expertise likely saved his life, Sorenson said.
“Most of the time on rescues, when I get there, they’re hysterical, they’re panicked, and that makes it very dangerous for me,” he said. “[Bratchley’s] mental state was impeccable. He’s a consummate professional.”
Sorenson said he was expecting the worst because there was limited visibility in the small cave system.
“Putting people in body bags all the time is no fun, and when you get to send one home, it’s an exceptional feeling,” he said.
Lieutenant Brian Krebs, from Chattanooga Hamilton County Rescue Services, also praised Bratchley’s composure, saying: “Most of what happened today here was Josh. His mental state when he came out was excellent.”
The former meteorologist was honored by UK Prime Minister Theresa May, and was appointed to the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, according to The Guardian.