British Soccer Club Owner and Four Others Dead in Helicopter Crash


The owner of the Leicester City soccer club of Britain’s Premier League was among five people who died after his helicopter crashed and burst into flames outside a stadium moments after taking off Saturday. 

Along with Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, a 60-year-old billionaire entrepreneur, two members of Vichai’s staff, Nursara Suknamai and Kaveporn Punpare, and pilot Eric Swaffer and passenger Izabela Roza Lechowicz, also died when the aircraft went down in the parking lot near King Power Stadium after a night soccer match.

“The world has lost a great man,” Leicester said in a statement. “A man of kindness, of generosity and a man whose life was defined by the love he devoted to his family and those he so successfully led.” 

Vichai who owns Thai duty-free retail giant King Power, bankrolled Leicester’s improbable league title triumph in 2016. 

He bought Leicester for $50 million in 2010 when it was in the second-tier Championship and led it to its revival that peaked with the title win.

Vichai handsomely rewarded Leicester’s players for winning the Premier League with new bumper contracts. In addition he bought each player a BMW i8 worth around $135,000, including for goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel.

Vichai, who started his business career with one shop and grew Thailand’s massive King Power duty-free chain, was known for arriving and leaving the stadium in his helicopter.

Located in central England, Leicester is about 143 kilometers north of London.

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