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)

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

A rider crosses a “skinny” on the newly opened trail known as 90s Jank, built within the Hartland system by volunteers with the South Island Mountain Bike Society. (Youtube/MTB Matt)
Mountain bikers celebrate first new trail in years on Saanich’s Mount Work

90s Jank trail a product of licence agreement between CRD and mountain bike society

Fire crews respond to the 3500-block of Blanshard Street in Saanich on April 16. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
UPDATED: BC Hydro crews repairing failed electrical equipment in Saanich

Vernon Avenue reopen to traffic following closure

An Extinction Rebellion Vancouver Island (XRVI) climate change event in 2019 saw a large crowd occupy the Johnson Street bridge. Black Press File Photo
Extinction Rebellion activists march from Vancouver to Victoria this weekend

The four-day trek ends at the B.C. legislature Monday, protest province’s environmental policy

The hiring of out-of-province workers by the Canadian Red Cross to staff the vaccination centre in Langford has raised eyebrows. (Black Press Media file photo)
Red Cross hires out-of-province workers to staff Langford vaccination centre

Staffer worries local jobs weren’t offered to local people

The District of Saanich announced April 12 that the Cedar Hill Golf Course clubhouse would remain closed for at least six months for repairs after a flood on Feb. 14 caused by faulty sprinklers. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Faulty sprinklers to blame for second Cedar Hill Golf Course clubhouse closure in just over a year

Saanich facility facing six-month shutdown for flood repairs, course not impacted

Rainbow trouts thrashing with life as they’re about to be transferred to the largest lake of their lives, even though it’s pretty small. These rainbows have a blue tinge because they matched the blue of their hatchery pen, but soon they’ll take on the green-browns of their new home at Lookout Lake. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
VIDEO: Lookout Lake stocked with hatchery trout to delight of a seniors fishing club

The Cherish Trout Scouts made plans to come back fishing soon

For Leela Harrop, the recent death of her brother Raju Tiwari pushed her to sign up for the vaccine. Photo supplied
Island woman on fence about vaccine prompted by brother’s death

Leela Harrop of Comox says she did have issues with signing up online this past week

Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops. (Dave Eagles/Kamloops This Week file photo)
RCMP intercept vehicle fleeing with infant taken from Kamloops hospital

The baby was at the hospital receiving life-saving care

Vancouver Police Const. Deepak Sood is under review by the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. after making comments to a harm reduction advocate Sunday, April 11. (Screen grab)
VIDEO: Vancouver officer convicted of uttering threats under watchdog review again

Const. Deepak Sood was recorded Sunday saying ‘I’ll smack you’ and ‘go back to selling drugs’ to a harm reduction advocate

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate persists, 1,005 new cases Friday

Hospitalization up to 425, six more virus-related deaths

The Nautical Dog Cafe at Skaha marina is getting its patio ready in hopes Mother Nature will provide where provincial restrictions have taken away indoor dining. (Facebook)
‘A lot of instability’: B.C. restaurants in layoff limbo

As COVID-19 cases stay high, restaurants in British Columbia are closed to indoor dining

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks on as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Expectations high as Trudeau Liberals get ready to unveil first pandemic budget

The Liberals will look to thread an economic needle with Monday’s budget

John Furlong, Own The Podium board chairman and former CEO of the Vancouver Olympics, addresses a Vancouver Board of Trade luncheon in Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday November 25, 2015.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
John Furlong presents 2030 Winter Games vision to Vancouver Board of Trade

Vancouver and Whistler would remain among host sites because of 2010 sport venues still operational

Photo by Metro Creative Connection
New campgrounds coming to B.C. parks as part of $83M provincial boost

This season alone, 185 campsites are being added to provincial parks, says Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Most Read