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Soccer coach who led boys into cave could face charges

The youth soccer coach who led his team into a network of underground caves in Thailand may face charges for putting the boys in danger, according to a report.

Officials are looking into whether to charge the 25-year-old coach of the Wild Boars, identified in local outlets as Ekapol Chanthawong, with negligence for bringing 12 boys — ranging in age from 11 to 16 — on an excursion into the Tham Luang cave after their practice June 23.

“We have to study the matter carefully first,” Col. Komsan Saard-an, chief of the Mae Sai Police Station, told the Khaosod English paper on Tuesday, when asked if charges were forthcoming.

Some residents said the coach should have been more prudent.

“The coach, too. He should be more careful when taking kids of other people to places. He had a duty to be responsible for those kids,” someone wrote on a popular Thai Facebook page.

But a local criminal attorney said Chanthawong couldn’t have foreseen that the cave would flood, trapping him and his team for days.

“In my opinion, he had no intent. Before they went inside, the rain hadn’t started yet. And they went there often, so they must have thought there wouldn’t be any problem,” lawyer Ananchai Chaiyadech said by phone. “The law also looks at intent.”

The team is known to go on frequent outings together, including cycling on mountain roads, swimming in waterfalls — and exploring caves, their families said.

All 13 remained trapped Tuesday and authorities said they would teach them to dive to safety as they feared more rain could keep the group underground for months.

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