We can’t call something a “good news” story when a life was lost before its concluding act.
So, what can you call the more than two-week saga that unfolded 8,954 miles away from Gadsden (according to Google), whose real-life suspense captivated followers not just in the U.S., but around the planet, way more than any CGI-ridden disaster flick out of Hollywood?
How about a story of cooperation, determination, perseverance and a refusal to give up — and a model for such situations in the future?
We’re talking, of course, about the rescue of 12 young soccer players and their coach from a flooded cave in Thailand’s Chiang Rai Province, which was completed on Tuesday.
The group — the boys are ages 11 to 16, their coach 25 — went into the Tham Luang cave on June 23 after a practice session to mark the eldest member’s birthday. For the cynics who ask “why,” the cave is a popular tourist attraction, the date was outside the July-November rainy season window in which visits are discouraged and exploration is part of human nature.
However, an unexpected monsoon partially flooded the cave and blocked the entrance. The boys and their coach had to flee more than two miles deeper into the cave to stay above the water, and had only some birthday snacks for food.
It took 10 days for British divers to locate them — hungry, scared but happy — and several more days to figure out how to extricate. The situation became more acute because oxygen levels in the cave were falling and more heavy rainfall was on the way.
So rescuers began pumping water out of the cave and sent in additional divers, including a medic and five Thai Navy SEALS, to aid the group and then guide them — none had ever dived before — through the narrow, winding passages to safety.
It was a dangerous task. One diver, a former SEAL, died of asphyxia on Friday while replenishing an oxygen canister along the way.
However, eight boys were brought out on Sunday and Monday and the rest of the group on Tuesday, trailed by the remaining divers.
All those who were trapped are doing well and likely will have some stories to tell in the years to come. (There’s already talk about a movie, but it’s going to be hard to top the real thing.)
Volunteers and journalists — we’re not supposed to root for a team or a side, but sometimes you can’t help yourself — on the scene cheered at the mission’s success. We imagine their celebration was echoed elsewhere, in a variety of languages.
Such global unity is rare in these troubled times. It’s a shame that it took a tragedy (which could’ve been much worse) and a true “Mission Impossible” to get there.