Flowers are placed outside Leicester City Football Club after a helicopter crashed in flames the previous day, in Leicester, England, Sunday, Oct. 28, 2018. A helicopter belonging to Leicester City’s owner ‚Äî Thai billionaire Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha ‚Äî crashed in flames in a car park next to the soccer club’s stadium shortly after it took off from the field following a Premier League game on Saturday night. (Aaron Chown/PA via AP)

Leicester helicopter crash: Soccer team owner killed

60-year-old Vichai is known for arriving and leaving the stadium in central England in his helicopter

The Thai owner of English Premier League club Leicester was killed in a helicopter that crashed and burst into flames shortly after taking off from the soccer field, a person with knowledge of the situation said Sunday as investigators examined the wreckage and hundreds of fans brought tributes to the stadium.

Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, the team’s owner of eight years, was on board with four others, none of whom were his family members, the person said. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release details of the passengers. The football club confirmed Sunday that all five were killed in the crash.

Aerial footage in daylight showed the charred remains of the helicopter with part of the wreckage covered by a tarpaulin

The 60-year-old Vichai, who owns Thai duty-free retail giant King Power, is known for arriving and leaving the stadium in central England in his helicopter and it became one of the defining scenes of the club’s improbable run to the Premier League title in 2016.

After Saturday’s game against West Ham, the helicopter took off from the centre circle on the field and cleared the stadium roof before plummeting to the ground in an adjacent carpark in a ball of flames.

With fans fearing the worst, a makeshift shrine formed from early Sunday outside the stadium named after Vichai’s King Power company. Among the hundreds of visitors was a group of young footballers from Thailand on a trip to England who knelt on the ground and bowed their heads in front of the carpet of tributes.

“Without you the dream wouldn’t have become reality,” read one message on a club flag on the spot where fans gathered two years ago to celebrate the team’s first English title in its 134-year existence.

Vichai, who was said by Forbes to be the fifth-richest person in Thailand, bought Leicester in 2010 and provided the funds that helped the team beat odds of 5,000-1 to collect the trophy.

Life-long supporter Ian Hubber wrote a message on a hat commemorating the title win to place among the flowers.

“That was a dream,” the 59-year-old Hubber said. “This is a nightmare.”

The outpouring of emotion at the stadium on Sunday reflected how highly the ownership is regarded in the city, which has only one professional soccer team. Vichai has formed a close bond with the fans, sometimes mingling with them at games, in contrast to some Premier League owners who maintain a distance.

Vichai has been praised for his charity work, donating 2 million pounds ($2.5 million) toward a new local children’s hospital, and he often provides free beer and food for fans outside stadiums.

“They’ve brought so much to the club, and given the fans so much to like them for,” said Ian Bason, chairman of the Foxes Trust supporters’ group. “And not just that, because they’ve also invested in the local hospitals too. So they’ve done things well outside what most football club owners would do.”

VIDEO: Teen soccer phenomenon Alphonso Davies to visit B.C. kids

By accomplishing one of the greatest underdog stories in the history of sports, Leicester gained new fans in Thailand.

“It’s Thailand’s team,” soccer fan Chatworachet Sae-Kow said in Bangkok. “It brought fame to Thailand when they won (the title). He carried the Thai flag with him and made people know more about Thailand, so I felt sad.”

Leicestershire Police has said the Air Accidents Investigation Branch was leading the investigation into the crash at the site which is sealed off by a cordon.

Leicester’s next game, which was scheduled for Tuesday against Southampton in the League Cup, is likely to be postponed. The women’s team game against Manchester United was called off on Sunday.

___

Rob Harris, The Associated Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, says the provincec has ordered 1.96 million doses of the flu vaccine. “That is a record for the province and 20 per cent more than last year,” she said. (Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
COVID-19: Central zone active cases up Monday

‘We’ve now crossed the tipping point,’ says Hinshaw

Sylvan Lake RCMP Detachment. Photo Courtesy of Google Maps
Sylvan Lake RCMP looking for input on policing concerns

Staff Sergeant Jeff McBeth wants to hear from local community members in the detachment area

Black Press file
The Yukon government is encouraging people to get the flu vaccine this year, saying that with COVID-19, it’s “more important than ever.”
Flu shots are available free of charge at pharmacies and doctors’ offices across the province

This year’s flu season presents an additional challenge as Alberta responds to COVID-19

Alberta has 3,651 active cases of COVID-19. (File photo)
432 new COVID cases sets another record Friday

Central zone holds steady at 126 active cases

"We are looking seriously at the spread and determining what our next steps should be," says Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, as the daily number of COVID-19 cases continues to climb.
427 new COVID cases is highest in Alberta ever

Central zone has 126 active cases of COVID-19

The death of 19-year-old Jacob Michael Chitze of Edmonton has now been ruled a homicide following an ongoing RCMP investigation.
UPDATE: RCMP arrest youth for second degree murder of 19-year-old Jacob Chitze

Arrest made for the murder of Jacob Michael Chitze, 19.

Pumpkins for the 46th Annual WDACS Pumpkin Ball on display at Vision Credit Union Wetaskiwin. Shaela Dansereau/ Pipestone Flyer.
46th Annual Pumpkin Ball held virtually this year

This year the pumpkins were sold over a six-day online auction.

Comedic actor Seth Rogen, right, and business partner Evan Goldberg pose in this undated handout photo. When actor Seth Rogen was growing up and smoking cannabis in Vancouver, he recalls there was a constant cloud of shame around the substance that still lingers. Rogen is determined to change that. (Maarten de Boer ohoto)
Seth Rogen talks about fighting cannabis stigma, why pot should be as accepted as beer

‘I smoke weed all day and every day and have for 20 years’

Leader of the Opposition Erin O’Toole rises during Question Period in the House of Commons Thursday October 22, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
O’Toole tells Alberta UCP AGM Liberals were ‘late and confused’ on COVID response

He says Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has taken charge and not waited to make things happen

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney arrives for an announcement at a news conference in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Inquiry into oil and gas foes to deliver report next year: Kenney

A lawsuit filed by environmental law firm Ecojustice argues the inquiry is politically motivated

The Canadian border is pictured at the Peace Arch Canada/USA border crossing in Surrey, B.C. Friday, March 20, 2020. More than 4.6 million people have arrived in Canada since the border closed last March and fewer than one-quarter of them were ordered to quarantine while the rest were deemed “essential” and exempted from quarantining. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Majority of international travellers since March deemed ‘essential’, avoid quarantine

As of Oct. 20, 3.5 million travellers had been deemed essential, and another 1.1 million were considered non-essential

This photo provided by Air Force Reserve shows a sky view of Hurricane Epsilon taken by Air Force Reserve hurricane hunter team over the Atlantic Ocean taken Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020.   Epsilon’s maximum sustained winds have dropped slightly as it prepares to sideswipe Bermuda on a path over the Atlantic Ocean.  The National Hurricane Center says it should come close enough Thursday, Oct. 22, evening to merit a tropical storm warning for the island.  (Air Force Reserve via AP)
Hurricane Epsilon expected to remain offshore but will push waves at Atlantic Canada

Epsilon is not expected to have any real impact on land

A voter places her absentee ballot in the ballot box, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020, at Merrill Auditorium in Portland, Maine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Robert F. Bukaty
American voters living in Canada increasingly being counted in presidential race

The largest number of Canadian-based American voters cast their ballots in New York and California

Most Read