The devastated mother of the Thai cave rescue survivor who died in the UK has said she is wracked with grief over his death.
Thanapron Phromthep said this morning she has not slept since the sudden death of her son Duangpetch ‘Dom’ Phromthep, 17, following an ‘accident’ in Leicestershire, on February 14.
The 17-year-old nicknamed ‘Dom’, former captain of the Wild Boars football team, rescued in 2018 from the flooded Tham Luang cave system in northern Thailand by British divers, was reported to have suffered a ‘head injury’.
At the time of his death, Dom was studying at Brooke House College in Market Harborough, Leicestershire.
Devastated Thanapron said: ‘I haven’t slept. It’s so hard for us.
Thanapron Phromthep, (pictured) the devastated mother of Thai cave rescue survivor Duangpetch Promthep, 17, who died in the UK has said she is wracked with grief over his death
Duangpetch Promthep (pictured) died in the UK on Tuesday after he reportedly suffered a ‘head injury’ and was found unconscious over the weekend
Last year Promthep celebrated his first Christmas in the UK after moving to enroll at a Leicester football academy
Promthep was filmed smiling at the camera of the rescue team after he and his team waited for 18 days in the darkness of the cave
‘I am grateful for Dom’s friends. They have always loved and cared for each other dearly.’
Thanapron and her grieving family made religious offerings of Dom’s favourite food and drinks, as well as flowers, to monks this morning, in accordance with Buddhist beliefs.
She said: ‘It’s been hard for us to sleep. We woke up at 2 am and prepared the food and incense for the monks.’
Dom’s friends from the Wild Boars have agreed to help repatriate his body so proper Buddhist rites can be conducted in Thailand.
Thanapron broke down in tears when she spoke about her son’s death. The mystery of Dom’s death deepened after it emerged he was found unconscious on the floor of his dormitory in the UK
Thanapron was surrounded by photographs of their family as she said she hadn’t slept since his death
She said the family were still unaware of how their son died. She added: ‘We have to accept what has happened and pray for him’
Thanapron said the family were still unaware of how their son died.
She said: ‘We don’t know. It’s a shock, we’re all still shocked.
‘We have to accept what has happened and pray for him.’
Meanwhile, a British diver who helped rescue Dom when he was trapped in a Thai cave five years ago paid tribute to him.
Cave explorer Vernon Unsworth, who was a member of Dom’s rescue team, said ‘life is cruel’ after learning that the athlete had died at a ‘very young age’.
Cave explorer Vernon Unsworth, who was a member of diving team that rescued Dom and his football team in 2018, has paid tribute to the young athlete, saying: ‘Life is cruel.’ Mr Unsworth is pictured in the Tham Luang caves
Duangpetch Promthep was among the 12 young football players on the Wild Boars team who became trapped by rising floodwaters for two weeks. Promthep (circled) is pictured with members of his Wild Boar football team following the rescue
‘The sad thing is he was given the opportunity he wanted in life and now his life has suddenly been taken away,’ Mr Unsworth told The New York Times.
He added: ‘Life is cruel.’
Mr Unsworth, joined by fellow British divers Rick Stanton and John Volanthen, helped rescue the Wild Boars football team after they were trapped in the flooded cave for 18 days by sudden rainfall.
In a complicated multi-day operation, all 12 members of the team, aged 11 to 16, and their 25-year-old assistant coach were rescued.
The mystery of Dom’s death deepened after it emerged he was found unconscious on the floor of his dormitory in the UK.
Kiatisuk Senamuang, former Thai national football team coach and chairman of the Zico Foundation which sponsored the gifted young footballer, described himself as ‘shocked and stunned’ at the news of the young man’s sudden death.
He said Promthep was found laid down unconscious on the ground in his room in the academy’s dormitory and was immediately taken to hospital.
Duangpetch Promthep (pictured centre) was among the 12 young football players on the Wild Boars team who became trapped by rising floodwaters for two weeks
Mr Senamuang, known, as Coach Zico, said that Dom had been hospitalized for a few days and passed away on Tuesday.
So far, the cause of death is unclear and there was no witness to what happened and hospital tests are still awaited.
‘My thoughts are with his family and friends,’ said Zico. ‘I think back to his dream of becoming a professional footballer, representing his country and his voice keeps speaking in my head’ he said, choking back tears.
Asked if Dom had any health issues earlier, the coach said he was very healthy and a full health check had been carried out to obtain his student visa.
The news came as his mother made a heartfelt plea for his ‘body and soul’ to be brought back to Thailand after his mysterious death at a football academy in the UK.
Meanwhile, social media accounts of Dom’s friends and family were full of tributes to the boy whose image captured the nation’s hearts as he and his team survived their ordeal.
Twelve members of the team, aged 11 to 16, and their 25-year-old assistant coach were trapped in the flooded cave for 18 days by sudden rainfall.
The massive successful international effort to bring them out alive, spearheaded by expert British cave divers, was portrayed recently in the gripping Hollywood movie starring Colin Farrell and Viggo Mortensen.
Dom had been accepted on a football scholarship to an academy in Leicestershire and had passed a full health check as part of the visa process, it was revealed.
Promthep, circled, is pictured with members of his Wild Boar football team following the rescue
Colin Farrell, Joel Edgerton and Viggo Mortensen in a scene from ‘Thirteen Lives’
At the time of his death, Dom was studying at Brooke House College in Market Harborough, Leicestershire, on a scholarship
Promthep (pictured with his father) promised he would ‘study hard’ in the UK
Brooke House College has said it is ‘devastated’ by the loss of Promthep
Promthep shared several snaps taken whilst enrolled at the football academy
The teenager also shared pictures of him working hard in lessons in between his football training
Promthep also shared with his followers his love for traditional English fry ups
Promthep (centre) pictured on a trip to London Bridge last year after moving to the UK
Meanwhile Dom’s mother Thanaporn Promthep, made a moving appeal for help bringing back her beloved son’s body and for help organizing a Buddhist ritual in the UK to ensure his soul was also brought back to Thailand.
‘Our family is not rich and recently he was our main breadwinner. Please help us bring his body back,’ said his mother.
Mr Senamuang insisted he would do his best to help and offered moral support to Dom’s mother and her family, saying ‘Please be strong mother’. He added that Dom was a good boy everyone loves him.
‘Our family knows that everyone in the foundation loves Dom and he was loved by Coach Zico like his own son’ said Mrs Promthep.
On his Facebook page, coach Zico wrote: ‘Rest in peace, you were my lovely student, polite and gentleman, generous, had a dream to become a professional footballer playing for national team, had a good technique and ready to learn, were a fast learner. I would love to see your dream future but…���� RIP Dom.’
The former monk who was the boy’s coach, also trapped in the cave, Eakapol Chantawong, aka Coach Eak, said on his Facebook page: ‘Dom, you will be in our memory forever.
‘You will be a model to the junior in our team as a fighter who never give up in a path of football. May your soul rest in peace Dom Duangpetch Phromthep, one of the former 13 members of Wild Boars team.’
Promthep was invited to the British embassy in Bangok by Deputy Ambassador Mr Dave Thomas after receiving his football scholarship
The football-mad teenager described it as a ‘dream’ to move to the UK and study
He wrote: ‘Today my dream came true. I’m going to be a football student in England’
Promthep and his team’s rescue from the cave system is still a topic of national interest
Former team-mate Phiphat Phothi, aka Nick, another of the Wild Boars, said simply: ‘RIP Dom, your future was bright. You will be in my memory forever’.
East Midlands Ambulance Service said in a statement: ‘We received a call at 12.48pm on Sunday 12 February to a private address in Market Harborough.
‘The caller reported a medical emergency. We sent three paramedics in ambulance cars, a crewed ambulance and the air ambulance was also in attendance.
‘We transported one patient via land ambulance to Kettering General Hospital.’
Promthep and his team’s rescue from the cave system is still a topic of national interest.
A pool known as the Emerald Pool, where water from the cave rescue was pumped, and a statue of a former Thai Navy Seal who tragically died during the three-week rescue operation has been promoted as tourist attractions by the Chiang Rai provincial public relations office.
Saman Kunan, the 37-year-old former Thai Navy Seal, died of asphyxiation during the rescue operation while delivering oxygen to the trapped football team.