Saturday 25 May 2019

Meet the Clare-based diver who 'risked his life' in Thai cave rescue

Belgian cave rescue diver Jim Warny, who lives in Ennis, helped to bring the 12 trapped Thai boys and their coach to the surface
Belgian cave rescue diver Jim Warny, who lives in Ennis, helped to bring the 12 trapped Thai boys and their coach to the surface

Ian Begley and David Raleigh

An experienced cave diver based in Co Clare was part of the rescue mission in Thailand that helped save the lives of 12 boys and their coach trapped in a cave.

Jim Warny, who is originally from Belgium but lives in Ennis, received a call last week by the British Cave Rescue Council asking him to help the Thai Navy Seal divers in the rescue operation at the Tham Luang caves. 

The father of one is said to have risked his life and dropped everything in the hope of bringing the boys home safely to their families.  

Mr Warny, a member of the Irish Cave Rescue Organisation, was last night praised by Clare councillor Mary Howard. 

“Little did we know that we have a hero in our community,” she wrote on social media. 

“A close family friend today told me Jim did not hesitate for a moment when he was called to help rescue the Thai group stranded in a cave.

“He has dropped work, risked his life and health, risked his own son Ciaran losing his father, so he could bring 12 boys and an adult back to their families. 

“His cave diving experience and big heart made the mission a success.

“When we turn our heads away from terrifying images in TV he was right there privileged, as he said, to be asked to help them. Brave, strong, dedicated, focused but also sensitive and gentle,” she wrote.

It is understood that Mr Warny will be reunited with his family in the next few days. 

Ms Howard will request that the local hero be recognised for his bravery.  

“Many of you might have met Jim when he was a dive instructor in Kilkee a number of years ago and he is currently a technician at Lufthansa in Shannon.

“I will speak with my colleagues at Clare County Council over the coming days that we as a community and council recognise the bravery of this incredible man,” she said.

“Jim have a safe journey home to your friends and family who miss you (especially Ciaran) and we are all humbled by your selflessness, thank you.”

Meanwhile, it emerged a man in Cappamore, Co Limerick, donated specialist diving equipment used in the Thailand rescue. Cathal Mullane responded to an appeal for the kit. It proved crucial in the rescue of the boys and their coach.

Limerick TD and Junior Minister Patrick O’Donovan said: “I want to say well done to Cathal Mullane and all involved in Cappamore with their assistance to what occurred in Thailand.

“Cappamore is certainly on the worldwide map this week and all there fully deserve it.”

The last generation scuba tank regulators were collected from Cappamore last Friday and by the following morning were in Thailand, according to the ‘Limerick Leader’.

A source explained that last generation regulators were “the regulator valves before the current modern regulator valves”. “They needed so many of them that they had to go around the world looking for them.”

VIDEO: New helmet-cam footage shows rescuers working inside Thai cave system where boys remain trapped 

Irish Independent

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