I’m ABC News’ Chief National Correspondent and author of THE BOYS IN THE CAVE: Deep Inside the Impossible Rescue in Thailand – out now! I report for all ABC News broadcasts and platforms, including World News Tonight, 20/20, Good Morning America, and Nightline. I covered the cave rescue on the ground in Thailand and spent hundreds of hours interviewing rescuers, experts, and the boys themselves to report on the story behind the story. The book breaks new ground on the mistakes that nearly doomed the mission, the heroism of the international divers, the U.S. Air Force Special Tactics team and Thai Navy SEALS, and the innumerable close calls that have never been reported until now. I’ve reported from over 40 countries, and you can find me on Twitter and Instagram at @mattgutmanABC and you can find the book at https://www.harpercollins.com/9780062909916/the-boys-in-the-cave/.

Proof: https://i.redd.it/n2zwfzhkv5y11.jpg

Comments: 47 • Responses: 20  • Date: 

hedgehogsinhats17 karma

Did Elon Musk do anything helpsful at all?

mattgutman29 karma

i think he offered a truly good faith effort. his escape pod, of aluminumn alloy, was space age. it might work in another setting, the divers tell me. but not in that Thai Cave. Turns out what worked best was what I call in the book: drug em and drag em. brute force over finesse.

FrogKidFrankReynolds13 karma

If you know this, how have the boys acclimated back to normal life and do you worry about any forms of PTSD coming to them in the future?

mattgutman28 karma

PTSD can take a while to hit. I'd be shocked if they don't suffer some form of it. BUT: they have an incredible array of social safety nets, which I was able to see first hand: nuclear family, extended family, Buddhist temple, friends, soccer team, town, nation. And I was super impressed by their parents. I saw the boys riding bikes around town late at night, on mopeds, and I asked one mother - how can you let you kids go like that? arent you worried? she told me "if we don't let them be boys, be adventurers, we lose them." so to keep the boys close, she had to let them go. as a parent, i loved that sage advice

itsnotaboutthailand1 karma

Thailand has the second highest road traffic fatality rate in the world at 36.2 per 100 000 with an annual estimate of over 24 000 deaths or 66 deaths every day. While globally 49% of road traffic deaths are among vulnerable road users (pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists), it is 83% in Thailand including 73% among motorcyclists or 48 per day.

Real sage advice there. I'm sure you'll be following it yourself?

Quote from World Health Organization.

mattgutman3 karma

touche! It's also a different culture, different mores. I think the point is that these boys cannot be ordered to stop living their lives, perhaps as we would do in the US - because I know I'd never let my kids go... .but then again different culture, different mores, different people

golden_blaze6 karma

What was (for you) the most impactful statement given by one of the boys? Did one of their testimonies stand out as unusually selfless or surprising for some other reason?

mattgutman18 karma

each of them cried out of terror and loneliness at one point. And they told me when one cried they all went to console him, or them. they stuck together, a team to the very end.

mattgutman6 karma

Come on folks. try me. Any more questions?

Grande_Yarbles3 karma

A few questions if you don’t mind:

  • There seemed to be some confusion at times in covering the situation even though there was so much press on-site. For example reports that the kids brought snacks in, the order in which they were coming out, etc. What was the cause of this?

  • There were rumors on Twitter that some people had been ejected from the rescue operation because of comments they made to the press, for example a Belgian diver. Did this happen?

  • Was it true that pumps stopped working shortly after the last kid was out and a staging chamber was flooded? Seems like a movie ending!

mattgutman1 karma

These are really informed questions. Thank you. Might have to answer them piecemeal, but want to do it thoroughly. 1. there was ENORMOUS confusion, partly because the Thai gov (correctly) wanted to keep a tight lid on things for the sake of the families. The boys had no real snacks going in. They ate them beforehand. The order was an issue, as was the entire episode of sedating the kids prior to the rescue dives. It's controversial in Thailand, but sedating the boys was a prerequisite for the dive. They wouldnt have done it if the boys were conscious.

yes Belgian diver was kicked out of camp for talking too much, and also apparently for angering the British divers. More on that in the book. It was an ugly episode that everyone regreted eventually

yes pumps stopped working, and yes it seems like a movie. but all true. When you read the book - find the "landslide" chapter... good stuff

paisleyplaid3 karma

I heard that some of the boys had unfortunate backstories and were from minority ethnic groups in Myanmar, and had no passports or citizenship, technically. Has this been discussed since their rescue? Has Thailand or Myanmar granted them citizenship?

mattgutman3 karma

Three of the boys were from a stateless minority group. they lived in Thailand but did not have thai citizenship. They were eventually granted citizenship after the rescue.

Chtorrr5 karma

Are there any little known facts about this that you'd like to share? Maybe something that didn't make it into most of the media coverage.

mattgutman15 karma

nealry everything in the book is NEW. that they were drugged into complete unconsciousness, that two of the boys nearly died, that there were FOUR rescues BEFORE the actual rescue even happened (thai water pump workers who got marooned deep in the cave) so much more...

Cdavis547 karma

They were anesthetized with ketamine right? Ketamine's been a safe anesthesia medicine for children and adults for 50 years. It's included on the list of the World Health Organization's List of Essential Medicines for disasters and war zones around the world. But in addition, ketamine has been successfully treating PTSD, depression, anxiety, and even suicidal thinking for years now...so it's was the best medicine out there for sedating these boys to go through that narrow path of caves and water to reach the outside. It was vital that they be unconscious for their own safety. A panic would have resulted in drowning. What's even cooler is that studies have shown that ketamine can be a sort of "vaccine" against PTSD for first responders, giving them the resilience ahead of the trauma to recover from it without PTSD. This is the most advantageous medicine possible to help the boys get out safely.

mattgutman10 karma

yes, and readily available. but generally ketamine is administered in a hospital setting. patients are monitored, by doctors. not in the cave. it was administered by a doc, but the divers couldnt really tell what was happening with the boys because they were diving them out in pitch dark, coffee colored water, and trying not to bash the kids' heads on the walls. VERY touch and go

twislebutt5 karma

What were some of the big close calls never reported? Why weren't they reported?

mattgutman8 karma

Two of the boys nearly died during the rescue - one from hypothermia, the other from the sedative - he stopped breathing after being injected w ketamine (he'd had pneumonia). Four Thai pump workers were marooned deep in the cave after it flooded initially. trapping them. two brits found them by accident and rescued them. there are more... but you'll have to read the book

ledawnh4 karma

Was there anything done for the marine that died during this tragedy? E.g. a fund set up in his name?

mattgutman4 karma

yes major funds set up in Thailand. he died before the rescue actually began on a routine mission to restock tanks. He died under slightly mysterious circumstances which are outlined in the book... you'll have to read the book to find out exactly what it was...

powelldennis4 karma

Who does your hair?

mattgutman7 karma

me. takes 60 seconds. i'll post an instagram about it soon.

Chtorrr3 karma

Did you get to talk to any of the rescue divers who ent in to get the boys?

mattgutman2 karma

Of course! That's how I know the real story. Spent many hours talking to them and to the members of the 353rd USAF Special Tactics group - basically the human swiss army knives, the Navy Seals of the air force.

pryord9462 karma

Was that guy really a pedophile?

mattgutman17 karma

NOOOOOOOOO there is no evidence, nothing to prove that Vern Unsworth is a pedophile. I've also asked him myself on the record. I know his girlfriend, have spoken with her. she's 40. as far as i can tell this is an unfounded allegation by elon musk

Papuluga651 karma

Is this whole thing is for real? ..... IMO, It's as if 'someone' is helping blowing this topic out of proportion, definitely help making Thai military's glorification campaign, and ... if there is any other purpose(s), i couldn't deduce that the US would be benefited from this anyhow? (Again, someone had linked the Thai cave incident's overblown media coverage to this: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2018/06/18/immigrant-children-border-zero-tolerance-policy/709872002

Fell free to search as i had heard this from youtube.

BTW, the latest with the Thai Junta government .... it had arranged for an wildly-criticized US/Argentina (high-level) trip lasted around a month period of totally 40+ people, including all the cave victims along with 20+ officials and entertainments such as visits to the Universal Studio and others.

Refs (including Thai's):



mattgutman3 karma

The Thai gov courageously agreed to go ahead wtih the rescue mission. They had promised the world ALL of the boys would survive, but the USAF special tactics team which led planning basically told them they couldnt guarantee anything, they belived many of the boys would die. but the thai navy seals didnt do ANY of the actual rescue dive. They did help carry the boys to safety from Chamber 2 onward. They were also helpful in installing air tanks all the way up to chamber three. And yes, the gov's use of the boys for promotion has come under some scrutiny... but I can also understand the position of the thai government... it's the best thing that has happened to them in a while

kalessin123451 karma

I know you will get a few of these, but was Musk right, was his sub able to help at all or was it all just a PR stunt?

mattgutman7 karma

it was an escape pod. not a sub. not self propelling, and no internal air pumps etc. but it COULD help, say divers, in another cave maybe. but for the Thai cave, not a chance. also it was a little late. but Musk did make a genuine, good faith effort to help. problem was once he was turned down by hurried and harried divers, he wasnt happy.

chuckacinco1 karma

Do you think there should be any blame for the coach who took the boys into the cave? Was the coach reckless or was it an honest mistake on his part?

mattgutman1 karma

Coach made a mistake. He's been forgiven for it. But it could have happened to anyone, according to Vern Unsworth, the caver who knew that particularly cave best. The boys and the coach got very very unlucky. Had they tried to leave the cave even minutes earlier they would likely have made it out... and this story would never have happened.

BurritoMonsters1 karma


mattgutman1 karma

HUGE amount of international assistance. US, CHINA, England, australia, Israel, European nations... everyone.

the Thai organizational structure is SUPER complicated... which was a major problem. everyone from PM and King on down had a role. read the book for more on that... it's a sore subject for many

Papuluga650 karma

government's response was around an major national crisis's level. Please investigate on any 'possibly' flaws.

mattgutman1 karma

there were major flaws. there was tremendous duplication of effort (four different teams looking at same possible alternate cave entrance). unnecessarily huge numbers of personnel. But this is par fo the course during a rescue of this scale, you don't build up forces and help in a fully planned mater during a crisis...

Cabut-3 karma

Was he in any way a pedo?

mattgutman3 karma

see above...