Five people, including Leicester City owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, died when a helicopter crashed near the King Power Stadium, the club has confirmed in a statement.
Leicestershire Police said the others who died in the helicopter crash were Nursara Suknamai and Kaveporn Punpare, who were members of Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha’s staff, as well as pilot Eric Swaffer and passenger Izabela Roza Lechowicz.
In the aftermath of the tragedy, the pilot has been hailed a hero, with one witness saying: “The pilot saved hundreds of lives.”
The Sun reports The Sky Sports cameraman said the pilot ‘seemed to manage to slow down the spinning rotation and it drifted off into the corner part of the car park’.
Dan Cox had just finished recording post-match interviews inside the stadium when the helicopter appeared overhead.
Cox told Sky News: “I heard the helicopter coming out of the stadium, saw it as you do, they are amazing pieces of machinery and then I just carried on walking thinking next time I look up it is going to be overhead.
“The next thing I just looked up and it was just spinning, static just out of control, just a constant spinning, I have never seen anything like it.”
He continued: “I don’t know how the pilot did it but he seemed to manage to slow down the spinning rotation and it drifted off into the corner part of the car park.”
As the cameraman began filming the aftermath of the crash two police officers desperately tried to get close to the wreckage to help but were beaten back by the flames.
“To my mind the pilot was heroic and the two police offers in front of me, who also tried to help, they are heroes too.”
“It could have been so much worse if the pilot hadn’t done that.”
Football fans and other members of the public began laying wreaths near the stadium on Sunday morning.
Bouquets, flags and football shirts have been left outside the ground by members of the public on Sunday morning alongside a large image of the Hindu god Ganesh which was also propped up in amidst the flowers.
A small candle was placed in front of the flowers as more people gradually gathered to pray for anybody who may have been on the helicopter.
Messages from Leicester fans on the flowers included “In our thoughts!!” and “Thank you xx”.
One fan left a card of a fox with their flowers which read: “Thinking of you all.”
Fans from as far afield as Italian club Inter Milan have laid tributes outside the ground after Leicester owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha was reported to have been on board.
A Wolverhampton Wanderers fan laid down his club’s shirt which read: “Divided by colours, united by grief.”
Other fans laid down shirts and scarves from their clubs to pay their respects – including Manchester City, Liverpool and Manchester United.
Leicestershire Police has said the Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) will now be leading the investigation into the circumstances of the helicopter crash.
The AAIB confirmed on Sunday morning its investigators had been deployed at the site.
A spokesman added: “A team from the AAIB has been deployed to the site and is investigating. Anyone with information that might be helpful to the investigation is asked to contact the police.”
In a statement released in the early hours of Sunday, the police said: “The aircraft came down in a car park near the stadium shortly after 8.30pm yesterday evening (Saturday 27 October) with Leicestershire Police, East Midlands Ambulance Service and Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service all responding to the incident.
“A cordon is currently in place at the scene to enable the AAIB to examine the area and complete their initial enquiries.
“Leicestershire Police will be supporting the AAIB in its investigation, liaising closely with Leicester City Football Club as enquiries continue.”
East Midlands Ambulance Service said the alarm was raised at 8.38pm and it sent a doctor, ambulance and team of paramedics alongside a hazardous area response team to the car park outside the stadium.
Here is the full statement issued by Leicester City Football Club confirming the death of chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha:
“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. None of the five people on-board survived.
“The primary thoughts of everyone at the club are with the Srivaddhanaprabha family and the families of all those on-board at this time of unspeakable loss.
“In Khun Vichai, the world has lost a great man. 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. Leicester City was a family under his leadership. It is as a family that we will grieve his passing and maintain the pursuit of a vision for the club that is now his legacy.
“A book of condolence, which will be shared with the Srivaddhanaprabha family, will be opened at King Power Stadium from 8am on Tuesday October 30 for supporters wishing to pay their respects.
“Supporters unable to visit King Power Stadium that wish to leave a message can do so through an online book of condolence, which will be made available via lcfc.com in due course.
“Both Tuesday’s First Team fixture against Southampton in the EFL Cup and the Development Squad fixture against Feyenoord in the Premier League International Cup have been postponed.
“Everyone at the Club has been truly touched by the remarkable response of the football family, whose thoughtful messages of support and solidarity have been deeply appreciated at this difficult time.”
Source : BirminghamMail