The helicopter seconds before crashing.
The helicopter seconds before crashing.

Billionaire killed in horror chopper crash

LEICESTER City have confirmed charismatic Thai owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha has died after a helicopter belonging to the billionaire crashed and burst into flames in the football stadium car park moments after taking off from the pitch at the football club's home ground.

Srivaddhanaprabha, a regular at his side's Premier League matches who flies to and from home games, was on board when the helicopter appeared to develop a mechanical problem in its rear propeller after takeoff.

He was one of five people on board the helicopter when it crashed. Leicester released a statement on Monday morning (AEDT) which confirmed none of the five people survived.

"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," the statement read. "None of the five people on-board survived.

"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.

"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."

 

 

Sky Sports News reporter Rob Dorsett was on the scene reporting.

"At about 8:30 this evening, eyewitnesses told me they saw the Leicester City owners' helicopter take off from the pitch inside the King Power Stadium - as it does after every game - and after a few seconds it appeared to lose control," he said.

"It was sent spinning out of control and crashed in the car park at the rear of the King Power Stadium, just a few hundred metres away from where the pitch is."

According to witnesses, the helicopter just cleared the top of the stadium before it started to spin. It then plummeted to the ground and burst into flames.

John Butcher, who was near the stadium at the time of the crash, told the BBC his nephew saw the helicopter spiral out of control apparently due to a faulty rear propeller.

"Within a second it dropped like a stone to the floor … Luckily it did spiral for a little while and everybody sort of ran, sort of scattered. As far as we are aware nobody around the car park was caught up in this problem."

A Leicester City spokesman said: "We are assisting police and 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."

 

The city's local ambulance service said it released a team including a doctor and two ambulances to the scene.

"We sent a doctor, 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 statement read.

Leicester was bought in 2010 by billionaire Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, who also owns Thai duty-free retail giant King Power. The team won the English Premier League at odds of 5,000-1 in 2016.

Leading players in the side, including Jamie Vardy and Harry Maguire, sent messages of support on Twitter, while rival clubs including Manchester City also voiced their concern.

Freelance photographer Ryan Brown was covering the game and saw the helicopter clear the stadium before it crashed, the BBC reported.

"Literally the engine stopped and I turned around and it made a bit of a whirring noise," Brown told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"It turned silent, blades started spinning and then there was a big bang."

The Premier League tweeted: "Thoughts from all at the Premier League are with everyone affected by tonight's incident." Leicester players Harry Maguire and Wilfred Ndidi tweeted the emoji of praying hands.