Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, Leicester City Owner, Is Dead After Chopper Crash

Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, Leicester City Owner, Is Dead After Chopper Crash

LEICESTER, England — Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, owner of the English Premier League soccer club Leicester City, was killed Saturday night when his helicopter crashed in a ball of flames outside the stadium, the team confirmed on Sunday.

The soccer club announced late Sunday “with the deepest regret and a collective broken heart” that none of the five on board survived.

The helicopter crashed about 8:30 p.m. outside King Power Stadium following Leicester City’s game against West Ham United. One of Mr. Vichai’s two daughters, Voramas Srivaddhanaprabha; two pilots; and an unidentified fifth person were also believed to have been on board, news media reports said.

With little official information released by Mr. Vichai’s family, the soccer club or the police for more than 24 hours after the crash, fans had filled the void with hope and expressions of gratitude.

On Sunday, a steady stream of fans — first dozens and then hundreds — headed toward the King Power Stadium, bearing flowers, scarves and Leicester’s Royal Blue jerseys, and laying their tributes carefully at an impromptu shrine outside the stadium.

Against the wall rested an image of Ganesha — a testament to the substantial Hindu population in the city, about 102 miles northwest of London — and a small statue of Buddha — a tribute to Mr. Vichai’s faith.

Rosemary Page said she couldn’t stay at home on Sunday. Since she and her husband, Andrew, heard reports of the crash, she had been unable to sleep.

“You just want to get more and more information,” Ms. Page, 61, said outside the stadium. “It doesn’t feel real. He was the best owner this club has ever had.”

To many, the crash felt personal. Mr. Vichai, a Thai billionaire who founded the duty-free retail giant King Power International and controls part of AirAsia, the region’s biggest discount carrier, has been cherished by fans ever since he bought the team in 2010 for 39 million pounds.

It had languished in the second-tier Championship. He then turned it into a Premier League champion by 2016 — the first title in its 132-year history.

Among the tributes at the King Power Stadium were photos of Mr. Vichai at the victory parade and a T-shirt, printed in the aftermath of the 2016 victory, reading: “Champions of England, we know what we are.”

His popularity was not simply rooted in his success, however.

“He did so much in the community of the city, gave so much to charity,” said Nick Orr, 58, who came to the stadium to pay tribute with his family. “He was just such a nice man. I don’t say it lightly, but it feels like losing a member of your family.”

As the bouquets and mementos kept arriving on Sunday, staff members cordoned off more of the area outside the stadium as a shrine, as fans awaited word on Mr. Vichai, who had endeared himself to the crowds by giving away beer, scarves, pies, hot dogs and doughnuts at the stadium around his birthday.

After Leicester City tied the game, 1-1, against West Ham on Saturday, many witnesses said they saw the chopper clear the stadium before it spiraled out of control. An investigation is underway to establish what, precisely, brought the helicopter down.

The city felt as if it were already in mourning, as many feared the worst even before Mr. Vichai’s death was confirmed.

“Everybody waiting up to hear an update about a man we’ve either never met or met a few time, but adore and love,” Hayley Sanderson wrote on Twitter. “That’s the true meaning of football. Hearts breaking all over the city right now.”

“Absolutely devastating news about the #LCFC helicopter crash,” Neil Harris wrote on Twitter. “Aside from bankrolling the club for a decade, these guys have thrown millions at hospitals and local charities.”

“You can’t put into words the love and respect for them in this city,” Mr. Harris said.

“He’s the man that allowed us to live the dream. There’s not an owner in the country that comes close to how connected with a city like he became,” Kristopher Warder, who describes himself as a “massive #LCFC fan,” wrote on Twitter on Saturday.

The Leicester City players Harry Maguire and Wilfred Ndidi shared prayer emojis on Twitter, as did the former team member Islam Slimani. “Speechless,” wrote Ben Chilwell, a defender for Leicester City and the English national team.

Gary Lineker, one of England’s most celebrated former professional soccer players and host of the popular BBC program “Match of the Day,” began his career with Leicester City. He called the events “a terrible tragedy” and “heartbreaking.”

News of the helicopter crash was breaking as Mr. Lineker’s show began on Saturday night. “That was the most difficult @BBCMOTD I’ve ever hosted,” he wrote on Twitter.

There was so much public interest in the crash that the Leicestershire police released a statement asking the public to be “patient, understanding and resist speculating on the detail and the circumstances.”

Emergency workers remained on the scene Sunday afternoon, and the police said they expected the inquiry to continue over the coming days.

Source link

About The Author

Momizat Team specialize in designing WordPress themes ... Momizat Team specialize in designing WordPress themes

Related posts

Leave a Reply