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Leicester City owner among five helicopter crash victims

The owner of Leicester City FC died when his helicopter crashed outside the stadium, the club has confirmed.

Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, two members of his staff, the pilot and a passenger died when the aircraft crashed at about 20:30 BST on Saturday.

Witnesses said the helicopter just cleared the King Power Stadium before it spiralled out of control and crashed in a fireball.

Thousands of bouquets and scarves have already been left outside the ground.

Leicestershire Police said it believed the dead to be:

  • Leicester owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha
  • Two members of his staff Nursara Suknamai and Kaveporn Punpare
  • Pilot Eric Swaffer
  • Passenger Izabela Roza Lechowicz

Ms Lechowicz, who moved to the UK from Poland in 1997, and Mr Swaffer were professional pilots and lived together in Camberley, Surrey.

She was selected by her country’s London embassy as one of 18 exceptional Polish women who inspired the community in the UK for being a pilot.

Hundreds of bouquets of flowers and tributes have been left by Leicester City fans
Thousands of bouquets of flowers and tributes have been left by Leicester City fans.

In a statement, Leicester City FC said the club’s thoughts were with “the Srivaddhanaprabha family and the families of all those on-board at this time of unspeakable loss”.

The club described Mr Srivaddhanaprabha as “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,” it added.

A book of condolence will be opened at King Power Stadium from Tuesday morning and the team’s next fixture against Southampton in the EFL Cup, which was scheduled for Tuesday evening, has been postponed.

The club added that it had been “truly touched” by the response of the football community, which included the arch above Wembley Stadium being lit in blue and white.

Wembley Stadium lit in Leicester colours
Wembley Stadium has been lit in Leicester colours as one of a number of tributes.

Club captain Wes Morgan tweeted: “Absolutely heartbroken and devastated regarding the news of our chairman.

“A man that was loved and adored by everyone here at lcfc.”

Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel, who witnesses said ran out of the stadium towards the crash scene, said Mr Srivaddhanaprabha had “changed football forever”.

“I cannot believe this is happening. I am so totally devastated and heartbroken,” he added.

Leicestershire Police confirmed no-one else had been injured and said the Air Accidents Investigation Branch had launched an investigation.

The helicopter came down in a car park near the stadium just over an hour after Leicester had drawn 1-1 against West Ham United in the Premier League.

Supt 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.”

Tributes outside stadium
A photo of Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha has been left among the tributes at the club’s ground.

Freelance photographer Ryan Brown, who was covering the game, saw the helicopter clear the King Power Stadium before it crashed.

He told BBC Radio Leicester: “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.”

Leicester City King Power Stadium helicopter crash
Five people, including the Leicester owner, were killed in the helicopter crash.

 

soource: BBC

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