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.

Just Posted

Maple Ridge public hearing blasts housing plan near river

People spoke for three hours against 26 homes

Pitt council pay increases partly in reaction to federal tax changes

Total cost of implementing the recommendations is an increase of $90,110 for council remuneration.

Party bus safety rules now in place

Maple Ridge family can now step back

Letter: ‘Prison system does not work for the taxpayers’

‘Other countries have moved away from such an antiquated and ineffective system.’

BC Ferries to pilot selling beer and wine on select routes

Drinks from select B.C. breweries and VQA wineries to be sold on Swartz Bay to Tsawwassen route

Paddling and pancakes, cleaning Katzie Slough shore

The fourth biannual canoe tour of the Katzie Slough took place on Sunday

Man driving wrong way on Highway 17 ‘seriously’ injured after crash: Surrey RCMP

Police say the driver hit a transport truck, then another car after merging from the off-ramp onto highway

Should B.C. lower speed limits on side roads to 30 km/h?

Vancouver city councillor wants to decrease speed limits along neighbourhood side roads

Lawsuit eyed over union-only raise for B.C. community care workers

‘Low-wage redress’ leaves 17,000 employees out, employers say

Landlord of alleged Okanagan shooter recounts deadly day

Tony Friesen was working in one of the units of his Penticton building when he heard shots

B.C. RCMP arrest foreign national in connection to airport thefts

A woman, 60, is being held in police custody as Richmond RCMP investigate

Police pursue pesky porker on Vancouver Island

‘This was allegedly not the pig’s first escape’

Rare ‘Snow Tower’ tree blooming in Vancouver city park

A plant rarely grown in Canada is now flowering at the Bloedel Conservatory in Queen Elizabeth Park

Westjet tries again to dismiss proposed class-action lawsuit alleging discrimination

Former flight attendant claims airline broke contractual promise to create harassment-free workplace

Most Read