When Erik Brown called to tell his family in Canada that he was taking part in the rescue of a trapped Thai soccer team in a flooded cave, they weren’t surprised.
“It’s the core of who he is,” said Erik’s brother Kirk. “He’s the first one in and the last one to leave, if somebody needs help.”
Raised in Langley and a graduate of D.W. Poppy Secondary, Erik runs Hydronauts Diving in Koh Tao, Thailand.
He was one of many divers recruited from all over the country to aid in the rescue efforts after a dozen members of a boy’s soccer team, and their coach, became stranded in a partially flooded cave system.
An expert diver, Erik first started diving in Australia a dozen years ago. He dived in Thailand before spending six years in Egypt diving the legendery “blue hole” formation, Kirk said. Then two years ago he moved to Thailand.
Erik kept his family informed as much as he could about the rescue mission and his part in it, Kirk said.
His first call came an hour before he departed for the Tham Luang cave. The boys had been trapped on June 23, and were found alive on July 2.
Erik arrived not long before the boys were located, and then became a support diver on the rescue mission.
All the boys and their coach were successfully rescued, with the last four and their coach emerging from the cave on Tuesday, July 10.
Erik’s mother, older brother Kirk, and other family members were “constantly looking for updates” during the mission, Kirk said. And they got frequent calls to reassure them Erik was okay.
“He was very good, when he had a moment, sending updates,” Kirk said.
But they did worry.
“There’s just some inherent concerns with doing something that dangerous,” Kirk elaborated.
Those concerns really hit home after the Thai diver Saman Kunan died while working on the rescue project.
The working conditions in the cave were difficult, Erik told his family, with zero visibility, and narrow, lengthy passages to traverse.
“Very proud,” Kirk said of the family’s feelings for Erik. “Always were, but it’s nice to see him get to do something this special.”
No one was surprised that he volunteered to take part in the mission, Kirk added.
Erik turned 35 this week, and is planning a return to Canada in the near future for a little rest.