Leicester City soccer club owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, a Thai tycoon, was died along with four others when his helicopter crashed in the club’s car park on Saturday after a Premier League match, the media said.
It was not known whether Vichai, a father of four and the founder of duty-free giant King Power International, was in the helicopter when it spiraled out of control and crashed just yards from the pitch, around an hour after the game had ended.
According to eyewitnesses, the helicopter just cleared the top of the stadium before it started to spin. It then plummeted to the ground and burst into flames.
A spokesman for the Midlands club said: “We are assisting Leicestershire Police and the emergency services in dealing with a major incident at King Power Stadium.”
Police and the ambulance services urged people to stay away.
Vichai bought the unheralded central England side in 2010 and went on to stun the soccer world by beating odds of 5,000/1 to win the Premier League title in 2016 in what amounted to a sporting fairy tale.
The father of four and founder of duty-free King Power International was a huge favorite with the club’s fans. According to Forbes magazine, he is the fifth richest person in Thailand with an estimated net worth of $4.9 billion.
“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,” a club statement said on Sunday.
The aircraft came down in a car park near the King Power stadium shortly after 19:30 GMT, about an hour after the end of Leicester City’s game against West Ham United, police said.
The other victims were believed to be two members of his staff, Nursara Suknamai, and Kaveporn Punpare, pilot Eric Swaffer and passenger Izabela Roza Lechowicz, Leicestershire Police said.
No one on the ground was believed to have been injured, they said.
John Butcher, who was near the stadium at the time of the crash, told the BBC his nephew saw the helicopter spiral out of control apparently due to a faulty rear propeller.
“Within a second it dropped like a stone to the floor…Luckily it did spiral for a little while and everybody sort of ran, sort of scattered. As far as we are aware nobody around the car park was caught up in this problem.”
In Thailand, officials at King Power said they could not yet comment on the crash or say whether Vichai had been aboard.
Leicestershire Police said a team from the Department for Transport’s Air Accidents Investigations Branch had taken charge of the investigation into the cause of the crash.