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

VIDEO: Cultivate Wellness Retreat in Chilliwack raises $15,000 for two women’s charities

Proceeds from the third annual event go to Wilma’s Transition House and B.C. Women’s Health Foundation

Missing Chilliwack woman may have headed to Vancouver

Dawn Lorraine Smith, 33, last in contact with a family member on June 15

Banner year for Chilliwack’s Education Centre comes to a close

Graduating Class of 2019 celebrated as alternate ed school looks back on successes

Traffic changes now in effect at Lickman Road interchange

Traffic signal at eastbound off-ramp was removed on June 24, taking away the left turn option

UPDATE: ‘Spontaneous combustion’ likely cause of fire at mushroom composting facility on Lougheed Highway

First responders were at the blaze near the Skawahlook First Nation Tuesday

VIDEO: Killer whale steals fisherman’s catch off North Coast

Fishing duel results in eager orca snagging salmon in Prince Rupert

Fate of accused in Canadian couple’s 1987 killings in jury’s hands

William Talbott’s lawyer says DNA doesn’t prove murder

Child killed after being hit in driveway on Vancouver Island

The driver of the vehicle remained at the crash scene and is fully cooperating

Eating sandwiches, putting on makeup behind the wheel could land you a fine

RCMP say if you cause an accident while eating you could be penalized

Cat badly hurt in animal trap was likely stuck for days, B.C. owner says

Blu, a three-year-old house cat, suffered severe damage to his hind leg after being stuck in trap for days

40 cats surrendered in apparent hoarding at B.C. home

Officers found the cats living among piles of garbage and feces, suffering from fleas

Vancouver Aquarium drops cetacean ban lawsuit in new lease agreement

Ocean Wise CEO Lasse Gustavsson called the updated lease an exciting new chapter for the aquarium

Plane veers off runway, into ditch at Langley Airport

Fire, ambulance, and police are on scene

Okanagan RCMP bike patrol rolls up on alleged stolen vehicle from Burnaby

The driver, a 30-year-old Kelowna man, has been held in custody and is facing possible charges of possession of stolen property and obstructing a police officer

Most Read