Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 26 May 2020

Leicester City owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha confirmed dead by local police

Source close to Thai businessman's family say owner was on-board the helicopter that crashed moments after take off following 1-1 draw against West Ham

The owner of Leicester City Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha was one of those on board the Thai businessman's helicopter that crashed in a car park outside the club's ground as it left the stadium on Saturday evening, Leicestershire police confirmed late on Sunday night.

A statement fro the force said: "Five people are believed to have died when a helicopter crashed outside the King Power Stadium yesterday evening.

"The five people were on board the helicopter when the incident happened. While formal identification has not yet taken place, they are believed to be Leicester City Football Club chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, two members of his staff, Nusara Suknamai and Kaveporn Punpare, pilot Eric Swaffer and passenger Izabela Roza Lechowicz.

"The force has been working to ensure that all the relevant next of kin had been informed prior to this information being confirmed publicly."

The helicopter seemed to spiral out of control moments after it set off at about 8.30pm on Saturday and plummeted into the car park shortly after Leicester's Premier League match against West Ham United.

According to eyewitnesses, the helicopter just cleared the top of the King Power Stadium before it started to spin. It then plummeted to the ground and burst into flames.

Srivaddhanaprabha is normally flown back to London in his private helicopter after attending home games.

Leicestershire Police said the Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) will now be leading the investigation into the circumstances of the helicopter crash.


Read more:

'There was a big bang': Helicopter belonging to Leicester City owner crashes near stadium

Helicopter crash at Leicester City football ground


In a new statement released earlier on Sunday, the force had said: "The aircraft came down in a car park near the stadium shortly after 8.30pm yesterday evening [Saturday 27 October] with Leicestershire Police, East Midlands Ambulance Service and Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service all responding to the incident.

"A cordon is currently in place at the scene to enable the AAIB to examine the area and complete their initial enquiries.

"Leicestershire Police will be supporting the AAIB in its investigation, liaising closely with Leicester City Football Club as enquiries continue."

Officials at King Power's headquarters in Thailand said they could not yet comment on the crash or say whether Srivaddhanaprabha had been aboard.

It is not known how many people were on board or if there are any survivors.

Eyewitnesses described the distressing scenes outside the ground.

John Butcher, who was near the stadium at the time of the crash, told the BBC his nephew saw the helicopter spiral out of control apparently due to a faulty rear propeller.

"Within a second it dropped like a stone to the floor ... Luckily it did spiral for a little while and everybody sort of ran, sort of scattered. As far as we are aware nobody around the car park was caught up in this problem."

Srivaddhanaprabha bought the East Midlands club for £39 million (Dh184m) in 2010 when the club languished in England's second tier. After pumping millions into the club, he helped steer them back into the top flight in 2014. Leicester narrowly avoided relegation in 2015 and then embarked on a fairy-tale run under Italian manager Claudio Ranieri that carried them all the way to the Premier League title ahead of Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur.

The self-made businessman Srivaddhanaprabha founded Thai duty-free giant King Power in 1989.

The duty-free business got a big boost in 2006 when it was granted an airport monopoly under the government of then prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, and it continued to prosper even after Shinawatra's ouster in a coup that year.

The family's empire also includes Belgian football club, Oud-Heverlee Leuven.

Sunday's Women's Championship clash between Leicester and Manchester United at the King Power Stadium has been called off following the crash.

The ladies reserve league match against Derby County was also postponed. Sunday's Premier League games are expected to go ahead as planned but Leicester's League Cup match against Southampton on Tuesday is in doubt.

Updated: October 29, 2018 09:23 AM



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