English Premier League club Leicester City has confirmed that their Thai billionaire owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, along with other four people on board, were killed when his helicopter crashed outside a stadium.
The club said on Sunday night that Srivaddhanaprabha, two members of his staff, the pilot and a passenger were killed when the aircraft crashed at about 8.30 p.m. on Saturday, in a parking lot next to the King Power Stadium in Leicester, reports CNN.
“It is with the deepest regret and a collective broken heart that we confirm our chairman, Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, was among those to have tragically lost their lives on Saturday evening when a helicopter carrying him and four other people crashed outside King Power Stadium,” it said in a statement.
The statement described the chairman as a “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”.
A book of condolences will be opened at the King Power Stadium starting at 8 a.m. on Tuesday, the club said.
Srivaddhanaprabha’s helicopter was a familiar sight at the Leicester stadium, landing in the middle of the pitch to ferry its owner to and from home games.
The crash occurred about an hour after Leicester City drew 1-1 against West Ham United on Saturday night.
Witnesses said the helicopter had barely cleared the 25 metre high stadium walls before making a loud noise, crashing to the ground and igniting in a large fireball.
Distraught fans set up a makeshift memorial for the owner before official confirmation that he was on the flight.
On Sunday morning before the club confirmed his death, a shirt adorned with the badges of Leicester City and Oud-Heverlee Leuven — the Belgian second-division team also owned by Srivaddhanaprabha — was propped up against the King Power Stadium, along with a framed picture of the Hindu deity Ganesh and a handful of flowers.
He bought the club for $57 million in 2010 and it was promoted to the Premier League in 2014, CNN reported.
In 2016, the club achieved the once-unthinkable feat of winning the premiership.
It went into the 2015-2016 season with odds of 5,000-1 to win but stunned fans, and bookmakers, by taking the title.
Srivaddhanaprabha was No. 388 on the Forbes’ billionaires list, with a net worth of $4.9 billion. He made his fortune through the creation of the King Power chain of duty-free stores, Thailand’s largest. The company sponsors the team’s stadium.