“Uncle Leo is so brave, like a superhero”.
That’s how the nephew of former South African Leandro Gerardo regards his uncle after the expert diver was part of a daring rescue of 12 Thai boys and their coach from a flooded cave in Chiang Rai province, Thailand.
The former Pinetown Boys’ High School pupil left South Africa in 2005 to work and travel overseas after qualifying as a dive technician.
Gerardo, 32, who now lives in Bangkok, volunteered to be part of “mission impossible” after his colleagues at Mermaid Subsea Services joined the rescue operation.
The boys, aged from 11 to 16, and their coach ventured into the Tham Luang cave in mountainous northern Thailand on June 23 after football practice and got trapped when heavy rains caused flooding, forcing them to take shelter on a muddy ledge.
They spent nine days in darkness until two British divers found them.
But the initial euphoria at finding them dissipated as authorities struggled to devise a safe plan to get them out.