Five people, including Leicester City owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, died when a helicopter crashed near the King Power Stadium, the club has confirmed in a statement. It said the 60-year-old, who bought the club for £39m in 2010 and led it to a first Premier League title in 2015-16, was a “great man”
Leicestershire Police said the others who died in the helicopter crash were Nursara Suknamai and Kaveporn Punpare, who were members of Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha’s staff, as well as pilot Eric Swaffer and passenger Izabela Roza Lechowicz.
The Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) will now be leading the investigation into the circumstances of the helicopter crash. The full statement issued by club reads:
“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.
“A book of condolence, which will be shared with the Srivaddhanaprabha family, will be opened at King Power Stadium from 8am on Tuesday October 30 for supporters wishing to pay their respects.
“Supporters unable to visit King Power Stadium that wish to leave a message can do so through an online book of condolence, which will be made available via lcfc.com in due course.
“Both Tuesday’s First Team fixture against Southampton in the EFL Cup and the Development Squad fixture against Feyenoord in the Premier League International Cup have been postponed.
“Everyone at the Club has been truly touched by the remarkable response of the football family, whose thoughtful messages of support and solidarity have been deeply appreciated at this difficult time.”
The force said formal identification had not been completed and no one else was believed to be injured.
Superintendent Steve Potter said: “This is an incredibly tragic incident in which five people are understood have lost their lives.
“Emergency services were immediately on scene when the crash happened, working to put out the fire and gain access to the helicopter in attempts to reach those inside. Despite those efforts, there were no survivors.
“The AAIB is now leading an investigation to establish the exact circumstances surrounding the crash and investigators will remain at the scene to complete their initial enquiries.
“It is likely to take several days to fully complete the necessary work and to safely deal with the scene of this tragic accident, during that time we ask that both the media and public resist speculating around the cause of the crash.
“Our thoughts today are with the families of those who have sadly died, with Leicester City Football Club, and with both football supporters and the wider local community who have all been impacted by the events of last night and the news that those on board the aircraft have not survived.”
The helicopter of Leicester owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha crashed outside the King Power Stadium following Saturday’s Premier League game against West Ham. Srivaddhanaprabha was on the helicopter at the time of the incident, according to reports from the BBC.
Witnesses said the helicopter seemed to spiral out of control moments after it set off at about 8.30pm on Saturday and plummeted into the car park. Police cars and emergency services rushed towards an area where flames were visible before the area was evacuated.
Leicestershire Police said:
“The aircraft came down in a car park near the stadium shortly after 8.30pm, with Leicestershire Police, East Midlands Ambulance Service and Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service all responding to the incident.”
Srivaddhanaprabha leaves the stadium by his helicopter, which lands in the centre circle on the pitch, after every Leicester home game.
Srivaddhanaprabha, who owns the King Power company, bought Leicester in 2010 and became chairman the following February. One witness told Sky News:
“I hope they’re okay. Doesn’t seem like they have had much of a chance. (It) just burst into flames.”
Pete Ripley, associate director of operations at East Midlands Ambulance Service, said:
“We received a call at 8.38pm on 27 October to reports of a helicopter crash in the car park of King Power Stadium in Leicester.
“We have sent a doctor in a car, two paramedics in ambulance cars, a crewed ambulance and our Hazardous Area Response Team, with the first resource arriving within two minutes of the call.”
A Leicester City spokesman said:
“We are assisting Leicestershire Police and the emergency services in dealing with a major incident at King Power Stadium. The club will issue a more detailed statement once further information has been established.”
Witnesses told Sky Sports News the helicopter took off from the pitch but lost control within a few seconds and crashed into the club’s staff car park. One fan told Sky News the owner and his family have done so much for the club. He said:
“They have conducted themselves so well, they have put everything into us. They have made us champions. You cannot ask for more from your owners.”
Police said the Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) would be leading the inquiry into the circumstances of the crash, adding that a cordon would remain in place while inspectors examined the scene.
Megan Blockley, who was across the road when the crash happened, said:
“The damage was really bad. They’d just put the fire out when I got there and it had been burned right through. “I was just in the bingo hall across the road and I heard the sirens. I rushed out and there were four fire engines and loads of police.”
One man, who wished not to be named, but has had a season ticket for over 40 years, said:
“I saw Kasper Schmeichel run out first and then loads of security guards and stewards. “I was stood outside the ground but it crashed on the other side. I hope everyone is OK.”
Leicester footballers Jamie Vardy and Harry Maguire both tweeted praying hands emojis, while former Leicester striker and Match of the Day host Gary Lineker passed on his thoughts.
Jonathan Ashworth, Labour MP for Leicester South, tweeted: “Awful horrific scenes at @LCFC with the helicopter crash. I’ve been in touch with our emergency services and thanked them for responding so quickly. Our hopes and prayers for all those caught up in this desperately awful incident.”
Leicester’s Hospitals tweeted: “We are aware of the incident in the vicinity of the King Power Stadium and are supporting emergency services.”
Andrew Brodie, Assistant Chief Fire Officer at Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service, tweeted:
“IMPORTANT: Emergency Services are dealing with a significant incident @lcfc King Power stadium. It’s essential you stay away and allow 999s free movement. More info will follow.”