We still do not know what caused the sudden death of Duanpetch 'Dom' Promthep at the football academy in Britain to which he had been so proud to win a scholarship last year.
It finally gives a story that had previously been able to uplift people's spirits a depressing undertone.
The incredible story of the Thai boys who were extricated from the cave in July 2018 was one of the most elusive occurrences in the news industry: a tale with an almost perfectly happy conclusion.
With only three days' worth of clothing, I hurried with my colleagues up to Chiang Rai and then to the entrance of the Tham Luang cave complex when we first learned that a group of Thai football players had gone missing.
In my haste I had assumed few people around the world would care for long. The boys would be discovered, or maybe they wouldn't. It would end there. It was a serious mistake, and in the muddy surroundings outside the cave, I would come to regret my choices in clothing.
I was interviewed by a Thai television crew five days later, when there was still no word on the boys' condition or whereabouts, and Thai rescuers had been forced from the cave by escalating floodwaters. .
I realized I was too sensitive to react. The boys were roughly my two sons' age in comparison. Only 12 days separated Dom from my oldest child. They had become very valuable lives because people were talking about them day and night and because their bikes were still chained to the railings by the cave.
In spite of all the evidence, we all held out hope that they might still be alive.
Then came that amazing moment when British divers John Volanthen and Rick Stanton came across them and yelled out to them in the pitch black, "How many are you? Thirteen? Brilliant.". It appeared to be nothing short of a miracle.
There were quickly more journalists present at the cave site than it could hold. But we were aware that removing the boys would be challenging. In fact, the divers had informed the Thai government that if only half of them made it out alive, it would be a success.
They were the world's most well-known boys by this point. The nation of Thailand was behind them. Even though they were warned that doing so would almost certainly result in their deaths, the Thai government had pushed for a risk-free option for days: leaving the boys there until the monsoon season ended four months later. Their lives were now worth too much.
We watched the boys and their coach being brought out one by one over the course of three days while being heavily sedated, and when they finally went for the high-risk, improvised rescue plan, it seemed impossible that they had all survived.
Though they did. And within a few days, they were charming everyone in their first media appearance, grinning, laughing, and kicking footballs around.
At that point, the Thai government assumed command and organized international travel as well as the lucrative negotiations with Hollywood filmmakers. yastmastmastmasticlericardsti a.
They stayed small-town boys with a few big dreams; they were respectful, appreciative of the efforts made to save them, and happy for the new opportunities their story had given them to travel and learn. However, they never lost their refreshingly down-to-earth demeanor. Even the worry that success would unavoidably taint the fairy tale was unfounded.
When Dom received the scholarship to study in Britain last year, Zico, the former captain of the Thai national team, thanked him and promised that he would work hard while he was there.
He wrote, "I'll give it my all.". No one could possibly doubt that he would have kept that promise after seeing him and his teammates handle all the attention so modestly.