Fans left lots of flowers, scarves and shirts outside Leicester’s stadium as they pay tribute to those killed
The helicopter which belongs to Leicester City’s owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha crashed outside Leicester City’s stadium
Eyewitnesses reported seeing the aircraft crashing shortly after taking off from the Leicester City’s centre circle
Club owner, 60 years old, killed alongside two of his staff members, pilot Eric Swaffer and co-pilot Izabela Lechowicz
The rich Thai owner helped Leicester City steer 5,000-1 outsiders Leicester to a miracle Premier League triumph in 2016
The victims of the Leicester City helicopter crash have been identified to include its billionaire owner, his assistant, a Thai beauty queen turned PA and the hero pilot and his girlfriend co-pilot saved hundreds of lives by crashing away from crowds.
The Premier League club’s biggest stars and football fans from all over the world expressed their grief as it was confirmed none of the five victims on board survived the crash outside the King Power Stadium at about 8.30pm on Saturday night.
Leicester City Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, 60, bought the club for £39 million in 2010 and led it to a first widely celebratedPremier League title in 2016. He was described as a ‘great man’ of ‘kindness’ and ‘generosity’.
His assistant Kaveporn Punpare, beauty queen Nursara Suknamai and also pilot Eric Swaffer, who previously flew members of the Royal Family, and his girlfriend and co-pilot Izabela Roza Lechowicz all perished alongside the club’s chairman.
Mr Swaffer, the pilot is considered a hero for having saved the lives of hundreds of fans by steering the doomed aircraft away from vulnerable fans on the ground.
Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel was seen by fans and correspondents running towards the stricken helicopter seconds after it crashed and watched it explode and said last night: ‘I cannot believe what I saw. All of it just doesn’t seem real’.
Schmeichel said in a message for the owner who signed him in 2011 : ‘Never have I ever come across a man like you. You touched absolutely everyone. You changed football and our perception of it. Forever. You gave hope to us that the impossible was possible.
‘It is difficult to put into words how much you have meant to this football club, to the fans and to the city of Leicester. You cared so deeply for the entire environment which is seen in your endless contributions to Leicester’s hospitals and charities that will never be forgotten.
‘Having signed me in 2011 you said to me we would be in the Champions League within six years and we would do great things. You inspired me and I believed in you. You literally made my dreams come true because your every single dreams came to reality’.
Aircraft Experts suspect the helicopter’s tail rotor failed, sending the £6million AgustaWestland into a ‘dead man’s curve’ that absolutely no pilot could handle.
Mr Srivaddhanaprabha’s helicopter was often flown by Mr Swaffer, 53, and his partner Izabela Lechowicz, 46. Mr. Swaffer has been reported to have posted pictures of the craft on social media.Both pilots are from Camberley in Surrey and were part of the owner’s family’s close team.
Ex-beauty queen Nursara Suknamai was also confirmed to have died at the scene. She came second in Miss Universe Thailand, 2005 and won Miss Photogenic accolade in the Bangkok-based contest the same year.
Ms Suknami was also a fitness fanatic, consistently sharing workout and yoga videos to Instagram. She had also shared images of herself at Leicester games with the hashtag #foxes #lcfc and #fearless. Her last post on social media was four days ago, when she uploaded a smiling selfie with the caption ‘Wednesday #wednesday #redlipstick’.
After news of her death broke with the club statement last night, her social media pages were flooded with tributes from followers.
One of her fans posts wrote: ‘May you rest in peace you beautiful angel.’
Leicester sources confirmed that Mr Srivaddhanaprabha’s helicopter was heading for Luton Airport where he was due to catch a flight to Thailand.
In the aftermath of the crash on Saturday night a police officer rushed towards the remnants of the helicopter belonging to the Leicester City owner.
An unnamed officer tried to pull open the door in order to save those inside, before an ‘explosion’ turned the wreckage into a fireball and forced the Leicestershire officer back.
Leo Brooker, one of Leicester’s local fan told BBC Radio 5 Live: ‘One of the officers was looking for something, I don’t know what he was looking for inside the patrol car to prevent the fire, I don’t know.
‘And the other officer, ran straight away to the helicopter trying to break the window of the helicopter with an object I don’t know, a big metal or… I couldn’t see what he was holding in his hand ’cause it was too dark.
‘All I’m sure of is that, one of the policemen was trying to break the window and trying to get in while the other one was inside the car looking for something and then the next minute I see the police officer had a fire extinguisher in his hand trying to prevent the fire and i don’t know even I was still scared. ‘As this was all going on five to 10 seconds, there was an explosion and policemen and all the three or four other guys that were trying to help had to pull back because the fire was going too hot.’
John Rudkin Leicester Director of Football and the team’s manager Claude Puel are both safe, according to Sky sources,
Subsequent reports had suggested Claude Puel may have been on board but Gregory Campi, the AS Monaco Team 3 coach told Nice-Matin that he was was safe and sound.
It is claimed that emergency services spent twenty minutes attempting to extinguish the flames.
The sound of the helicopter crash could be heard on a BT Sport post-match broadcast and goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel is said to have witnessed the crash and broke down in tears.
Fans were shocked and some broke down in tears as the helicopter crash landed to the ground near the club’s staff car park at around 8.30pm on Saturday, shortly after Leicester’s 1-1 draw with West Ham.
The £2million aircraft which has eight seats was spotted hovering over the south east corner of the ground before crashing and spiraling to the ground, near Filbert Way, and bursting into flames.
One spectator who wished not to be named, but has had a season ticket for over 40 years, told Sky News: ‘I saw Kasper Schmeichel run out first and then loads of security guards and stewards.
‘I was outside the ground but it crashed landed on the other side. I hope everyone is OK.’
Peter Shilton, former England legend and his wife also witnessed the carnage unfold. His partner Stephanie, 50, said: ‘We are both in shock on our way back home. It happened in front of us as we were leaving the ground.
‘We couldn’t fathom what had happened. It was devastating. We need to know if everyone is OK. That’s the biggest thing. We just hope that everyone got out OK.’
A Sky Sports News reporter said people were ‘running for their lives’ in the aftermath of the crash.
Rob Dorsett had said: ‘The car park was certainly populated with fans at the time whether that was members of staff leaving the stadium or spectators watching the game.’
‘There has to be concern for people who are walking back to their cars or getting buses back to the train station.’
Photographs close to the crash site revealed at least one vehicle with its windows blown out and its roof burnt.
Fans were reported to have been treated to a free beer to celebrate his birthday ahead of a match against Newcastle in April 2018.
Season-ticket prices have been stalled for the past four seasons, while Srivaddhanaprabha also donated £2 million ($2.5 million) to help the community build a local children’s hospital in the aftermath of the club’s title triumph.
King Power, is now a known staple of the country’s airports and the brand also have the naming rights to Leicester City’s stadium.
Freelance photographer, Ryan Brown, who covered the game told BBC Radio 5 Live that he saw the helicopter rise out of the stadium before it crashed.
‘Literally, he reported, the engine stopped and I turned around, and it made a bit of a whirring noise. It became silent, blades started spinning and then there was a big crash,’.
Leicester City defender Harry Maguire had tweeted a video of the aftermath of the crash with praying hands emojis. Midfielder Ben Chilwell, James Maddison, Wilfred Ndidi and Jamie Vardy also posted the same emojis after the game.
England and Leicester City defender Ben Chilwell had tweeted: ‘Speechless.’
Former Leicester City striker and Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker also tweeted: ‘Hearing that the Leicester City owners’ helicopter has crashed in the club’s car park, it is the most difficult @BBCMOTD I’ve ever hosted. My thoughts are with everyone at Leicester City. A terrible tragedy. Heartbreaking.’
Jonathan Ashworth, known to be Labour MP for Leicester South, tweeted: ‘Awful horrific scenes at @LCFC with the helicopter crash. I’ve been in touch with our emergency services and thanked them enough for responding so quickly. Our hopes and prayers for all those caught up in this desperately awful incident.’