Leicester City owner dies in a helicopter crash

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Leicester City have confirmed that chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha was killed in the helicopter crash on Saturday night with four other passengers, in a tragedy which has stunned the football world.

Mr Srivaddhanaprabha’s aircraft plummeted to the ground and erupted in flames an hour after Leicester’s 1-1 draw with West Ham, and the 61-year-old was on board with two personal assistants and two crew members.

Leicestershire Police believe the others who died in the helicopter crash were Nursara Suknamai and Kaveporn Punpare, members of Mr Srivaddhanaprabha’s staff, as well as pilot Eric Swaffer and passenger Izabela Roza Lechowicz, although formal identification has not yet taken place.

Mr Srivaddhanaprabha’s helicopter was heading for Luton airport, before he was then scheduled to fly back to his native Thailand, but an apparent mechanical failure ended in a disaster which has left the Premier League club in mourning.

Witnesses have said the “engine stopped” in the air, before the Augusta Westland AW-169 plunged to the ground at around 8.45pm. It was claimed on Sunday night that the pilot averted an even larger crisis by directing the malfunctioning helicopter towards the south-east corner of the stadium and away from many supporters in the car parks leaving the game.

It took more than 20 minutes for the flames to be extinguished before emergency services were able to survey the wreckage. Sources at Leicester have said there were no other casualties on the ground when the helicopter crashed.

Leicester’s statement read: “It is with the deepest regret and a collective broken heart that we confirm our chairman, Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, was among those to have tragically lost their lives on Saturday evening when a helicopter carrying him and four other people crashed outside King Power Stadium. None of the five people on-board survived.

“The primary thoughts of everyone at the club are with the Srivaddhanaprabha family and the families of all those on-board at this time of unspeakable loss.

“In Khun Vichai, the world has lost a great man. A man of kindness, of generosity and a man whose life was defined by the love he devoted to his family and those he so successfully led. Leicester City was a family under his leadership. It is as a family that we will grieve his passing and maintain the pursuit of a vision for the Club that is now his legacy.”

 

Prince William, president of the Football Association, paid tribute to Srivaddhanaprabha.

He said: “My thoughts today are with the family and friends of Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha and all the victims of the terrible crash at Leicester City Football Club.

“I was lucky to have known Vichai for several years. He was a businessman of strong values who was dedicated to his family and who supported a number of important charitable causes. He made such a big contribution to football, not least through Leicester City’s magical 2016 season that captured the imagination of the world.

“He will be missed by all fans of the sport and everyone lucky enough to have known him.”

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