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

B.C. chiefs show solidarity with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs

Chiefs from around B.C. outside the Coastal GasLink pipeline route in Smithers show support.

Woman killed in head-on crash near Vanderhoof

RCMP say driver crossed the centre line and hit a loaded fuel tanker truck

RCMP to review actions at Wet’suwet’en pipeline protest camps

Senior Mountie says he hopes protests will be peaceful following deal with hereditary chiefs

‘Tripod’ delays access to Unist’ot’en camp

Social media rumours of cultural significance quashed, meaning police “exclusion zones” should end.

Hereditary chiefs negotiate injunction agreement

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs abide by interim injunction, but gate stays up. Still opposed.

New Canada Food Guide nixes portion sizes, promotes plant-based proteins

Guide no longer lists milk and dairy products as a distinct food group

Suspended B.C. legislature officers accused of ‘flagrant overspending’

Personal trips, purchases, alcohol and more laid out in 76-page report by Plecas

Alberta youth charged over theft of $17,000 in snow equipment at B.C. ski resort

Alberta RCMP recovered $17,000 in skis/snowboards believed stolen from Fernie Alpine Resort Saturday

China demands U.S. drop Huawei extradition request with Canada

Hua said China demands that the U.S. withdraw the arrest warrant against Meng Wanzhou

Giant ice disk equipped with webcam after surviving storm

Westbrook official Tina Radel says the livestream was requested by Brown University

Ousted B.C. legislature officials say report released to further blacken their reputations

James and Lenz say release was ‘Contrary to all principles of fairness and decent treatment’

B.C. animators land Oscar nominations

‘Animal Behaviour’ by Vancouver’s David Fine and Alison Snowden among several Canadians on the short list

B.C. legislature managers accused of excessive travel, personal expense claims

Clerk Craig James, security chief Gary Lenz call allegations ‘completely false’

Auto shop apologizes after B.C. employees disrespect memorial convoy

Mr. Lube staff members suspended after incident Sunday in Nanaimo

Most Read