Chiang Mai school director shocked by former student and Wild Boar football captain’s sudden death

The director of a school in Chiang Mai says he is shocked by his former student and Wild Boar football team captain’s sudden death.

Duangphet “Dom” Phromthep was a Mathayom Suksa 5 (Grade 11) student at Vachiralai School in Chiang Mai’s Saraphi district before he received a scholarship from the Zico Foundation to play football at an academy in England.

Khanong Tonlek, the director of his former school, says Dom continued to take online classes and exams through the school to qualify to enter Mathayom Suksa 6 the next year.

According to the Bangkok Post, the boy was enrolled at the school from Mathayom Suksa 2 or Grade 8 shortly after he was rescued from the Tham Luang cave in Chiang Rai. Dom wanted to pursue sports at the school and was given a scholarship.

Khanong says school executives, teachers and students were also shocked and saddened by his sudden death.

Khanong says he had spoken with Dong, a close classmate of Dom who phoned him the day before he was found unconscious in his dormitory room.

“During the phone conversation, Dom talked about his studies and general topics about football there. There were no signs of anything that would lead to death.”

The director says he is awaiting the autopsy results from England. But, he has wondered how a teenage athlete who was so physically fit could die so suddenly.

“It’s hard to believe it was an accident, a slip in a bathroom, as it seems unreasonable. We have to await the investigation coupled with autopsy results to find out the exact cause of death.”

Initial reports claimed that Dom fell accidentally and was injured. He was taken to a local hospital and was put on a ventilator but succumbed to his injuries last Sunday.

Dom and his teammates rose to stardom after they were rescued from being stuck in Thailand’s Tham Luang cave complex in 2018. They went to explore the cave with their football coach and became flooded in when it started raining hard. They were trapped for 17 days while an international team was assembled to rescue the 12 footballers and their coach.

Dom celebrated his 13th birthday while trapped in the cave. He was the first one to shout for help when the divers arrived at their location in the cave. Vernon Unsworth, one of the British divers who played a key role in rescuing the boys spoke of Dom’s sudden passing to the New York Times.

“The sad thing is he was given the opportunity he wanted in life and now his life has suddenly been taken away at a very young age. Life is very cruel.”

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Ann Carter

Ann Carter is an award-winning journalist from the United States with over 12 years experience in print and broadcast news. Her work has been featured in America, China and Thailand as she has worked internationally at major news stations as a writer and producer. Carter graduated from the Walter Williams Missouri School of Journalism in the USA.

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