Leicester City confirm owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha one of five people to have died in helicopter crash
Leicester City have confirmed the death of their chairman and owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha in a helicopter crash outside the club’s stadium.
In statement released on Sunday night, Leicester announced the 60-year-old was one of five people to have lost their lives in the tragic incident a day earlier.
Srivaddhanaprabha was spotted boarding the helicopter on the King Power Stadium pitch – as he did after every home match – approximately an hour after Leicester’s Premier League clash with West Ham on Saturday evening, at around 8.30pm.
Tragedy struck just moments after take-off, however, as it spiralled out of control and plummeted into a staff car park just outside the stadium.
A Leicester 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.
“A book of condolence, which will be shared with the Srivaddhanaprabha family, will be opened at King Power Stadium from 8am on Tuesday 30 October 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.”
Self-made Thai billionaire Srivaddhanaprabha bought Leicester for £39million in 2010, and became chairman the following February.
Under his ownership the club rose out of the Championship and, remarkably, won the Premier League for the first time in its history in 2015-16, defying odds of 5,000-1.
He was a hugely popular figure at the club and around the city, and was praised for his charity work, donating £2 million towards a new children’s hospital.
Leicester have confirmed their EFL Cup match with Southampton, due to be played on Tuesday, will be postponed in the wake of his tragic death.
The development squad’s fixture against against Feyenoord in the Premier League International Cup has also been scrapped for a later date.
Leicestershire Police said the other four people to have died were believed to be two of Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha’s staff Nursara Suknamai and Kaveporn Punpare, pilot Eric Swaffer and passenger Izabela Roza Lechowicz.
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.
“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 Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) is leading the investigation into the circumstances of the helicopter crash.
On Sunday, thousands visited the King Power Stadium to pay their respects to the victims as they awaited confirmation of their deaths.
Bouquets, flags and football shirts were left outside the ground alongside a large image of the Hindu god Ganesh.
Minute’s silences were held ahead of the Premier League matches between Burnley and Chelsea, and Manchester United and Everton, while there was a warm applause for the victims ahead of Crystal Palace vs Arsenal.
Leicester stars rushed to pay tribute to Srivaddhanaprabha after his death.
Harry Maguire hailed a “truly great, kind, loving man”, while Wes Morgan said he was “absolutely heartbroken and devastated regarding the news of our chairman. A man that was loved and adored by everyone here at LCFC and someone who I personally had the utmost respect for.”
Jamie Vardy – whose meteoric rise through the leagues was matched step-by-step by the club as they came from nowhere to win the Premier League in 2016 – called Srivaddhanaprabha “a legend”.
He said on Instagram: “Struggling to find the right words, but to me you are a legend, an incredible man who had the biggest heart, the soul of Leicester City Football Club. Thank you for everything you did for me, my family and our club. I will truly miss you, may you rest in peace.”
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