Leicester City owner killed in stadium helicopter crash
Thai billionaire Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha one of five believed dead
Leicester City owner and chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha is believed to have been one of five people killed when his helicopter crashed outside the King Power stadium just minutes after taking off following Saturday’s match against West Ham.
Sky Sports said the helicopter took off from the pitch “as it does after every game”, but spiralled out of control before crashing in a car park a few hundreds metres away.
Some observers suggested that the helicopter’s twin engines appeared to cut out shortly before it came down.
Freelance photographer Ryan Brown, who was covering the game, said: “The engine stopped and I turned round and it made a bit of a whirring noise, like a grinding noise. The helicopter just went silent, I turned round and it was just spinning, out of control. And then there was a big bang and then [a] big fireball.”
Sky News reports that two members of Srivaddhanaprabha’s staff were also on board the helicopter, as well as the pilot and his partner, also a professional pilot.
The Thai billionaire oversaw the club’s remarkable rise from League One to Premier League champions, and “some supporters speak of the Srivaddhanaprabhas as like family” reports The Guardian.
As well as gestures such as handing out 60 free season tickets to mark his 60th birthday in April this year, Srivaddhanaprabha has donated large sums towards city life, including £2m for a new children’s hospital in Leicester, £1m to the city’s university medical department and a £100,000 donation to the fund to rebury Richard III in 2015.
The BBC’s Samantha Fisher says that despite the number of fans gathered outside the stadium to pay their respects “here it's very quiet”.
“Many people have been in tears as they approach stadium and they've all been consoling each other,” she said.
On Sky News, Leicester City fan and journalism lecturer Lee Marlow said: “The footballing landscape has been ruined by owners who take clubs as playthings, get bored and run them into the ground”.
“We love Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha not just for who he was - but because of who he wasn't. We love him not only for what he did - but what he didn't do. We judged him on his deeds, not his words”.