A book of condolence has opened outside the King Power Stadium in memory of Leicester City owner, Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha. The Thai billionaire was on board a helicopter that crashed in the car park shortly after it lifted off. Four other people were on board.
A tragic end to Leicester City owner and the fairytale of Leicester Football Club
Reports confirm that Mr Srivaddhanaprabha set off in his private helicopter with four other people shortly after 19:30 (UTC). Freelance photographer Ryan Brown was an eyewitness.
“I heard the helicopter take off,” he told the BBC. “I turned around and it made a whirring noise and grinding noise and then went silent, it was spinning out of control. The blades had stopped spinning and then there was a big bang and a big fireball”.
Many people responded immediately to the incident. The exact cause of the accident isn’t known yet, as the helicopter’s Digital Flight Data Recorder has been retrieved and analysed.
The other people on board were two members of his staff, Nursara Suknamai, Kaveporn Punpare, and pilot Eric Swaffer, with his partner Izabela Roza Lechowicz.
Mr Vichai purchased Leicester City Football Club in 2010 for an undisclosed fee. The club had several managers and mixed results until the 2015-2016 season. Under Claudio Ranieri’s reign, the team went on to win the English Premier League despite the 5000-1 odds at the start.
Many of the players from the title-winning team have offered their thoughts and condolences, even when playing for a different team.
“Part of the fabric of Leicester”
Mr Vichai made his fortune in his native Thailand. As former owner and chairman of King Power founded 29 years ago. They specialise in duty-free business.
The former Leicester City owner has left a profound impact in the city through the team’s winning exploits and his philanthropic ventures.
£2 million was donated to Leicester Children’s Hospital charity, while another £1m was given to the Foxes Foundation to develop the community, and a further £1m to Leicester University’s medical department.
The mayor of Leicester, Sir Peter Soulsby, said that Mr Vichai “didn’t just buy a football club and run it from a distance – he became a part of the city and became much loved here”.
A consultant paediatrician at University Hospital Leicester Children’s Hospital, Dr Sanjiv Nichani, said Mr Vichai became “part of the fabric of Leicester, a giant of Leicester history”.
Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha, son of Mr Vichai, succeeded his late father as CEO and chairman of King Power.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family left behind by Leicester City owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha.
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