Leicester City Owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha Has Passed Away Aged 61
Leicester City owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha has sadly passed away at the age of 61.
The Thai businessman was leaving the King Power Stadium after Leicester's 1-1 draw to West Ham United in a private helicopter when it crashed in the arena's car park.
The club released a statement on Twitter and confirmed that none of the five passengers survived the crash.
"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," reads the club's statement. "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 30 October 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."
Leicestershire Police's website have named two members of Srivaddhanaprabha's staff -- Nursara Suknamai and Kaveporn Punpare -- pilot Eric Swaffer and passenger Izabela Roza Lechowicz as those who have also lost their lives.
Superintendent Steve Potter said: "This is an incredibly tragic incident in which five people are understood have lost their lives.
"Emergency services were immediately on scene when the crash happened, working to put out the fire and gain access to the helicopter in attempts to reach those inside. Despite those efforts, there were no survivors.
"The AAIB is now leading an investigation to establish the exact circumstances surrounding the crash and investigators will remain at the scene to complete their initial enquiries. It is likely to take several days to fully complete the necessary work and to safely deal with the scene of this tragic accident, during that time we ask that both the media and public resist speculating around the cause of the crash.
"We appreciate that both the public and media were keen to be updated on the circumstances and to confirm if those on board the helicopter had survived, but before any detail could be issued publicly, it was vital that all immediate next of kin were informed of the tragic outcome. As our communities will understand, this was a matter that needed to be handled sensitively and with dignity, with the families of the deceased being at the heart of our response, which involved other agencies.
"Our thoughts today are with the families of those who have sadly died, with Leicester City Football Club, and with both football supporters and the wider local community who have all been impacted by the events of last night and the news that those on board the aircraft have not survived."
One witness at the incident said that Leicester 'keeper Kasper Schmeichel had rushed out to the scene and was deeply distressed by what had happened.
Following on from mixed reports last night, it was believed that manager Claude Puel had been aboard the helicopter. However, he has since come out to dismiss the rumours.
"I am fine, but dreadfully sad," he said. "It is a tragedy for the club.
"All of my thoughts are with the victims and their families and I want [to] reassure all the people who are concerned about me. I am distraught, but I am well."
Mr Srivaddhanaprabha purchased the Foxes in 2010 and became a beloved figure for fans.
The father-of-four saw the club achieve significant success under his reign, including promotion from the Championship to the Premier League in 2014.
He appointed Claudio Ranieri as Leicester boss in 2015, who would defy the 5000-1 odds to help the Foxes capture their first Premier League title.
Matt Davis, the vice-chairman of the Foxes Trust, commented on the tragic incident following a visit to the King Power.
"I woke up this morning and thought it was just a bad nightmare," he said (via the Daily Star). "But getting down here [to the King Power Stadium], reality hammers home again.
"It's dreadful news and numbness all round really.
"They [the owners] have been so generous, so warm and friendly. We joke about the pints we get when it's his [Srivaddhanaprabha's] birthday, the mince pies and generous gifts like that.
"But it's wider than that. The donations to hospitals, he is such a warm, loving man, very community-focused and humble.
"He's not your average owner that flies in 10 times a year to see the club. He is here every week."
Wolves shirt left at the King Power shrine this morning, other tributes from Liverpool, Inter Milan, West Ham, Man Utd fans #LCFC pic.twitter.com/F8Oo06unBU
- Martin Fricker (@martinfricker) October 28, 2018
A man who brought us triumph, jublilation and allowed us to dream. Created hope for all clubs that anything is achievable. Was with us at our lowest and there at the absolute highest. Never forgotten and always loved!:flag_th::blue_heart: #VichaiSrivaddhanaprabha #LCFC pic.twitter.com/qWTF62BMff
- Alex Bowman :rose: (@AlexBowman9) October 28, 2018
This is how we will remember Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha. He was a man who was active in the community, donated millions, and through acts like the picture below, SHOWED he truly cared for the Leicester City faithful. He was the best owner anyone could ever ask for. :blue_heart: #LCFC pic.twitter.com/Wd66Iz5PZk
- The Windeh Citeh Fox (@AmericanFoxLCFC) October 28, 2018
This guy was everything to us Leicester fans. Without him we wouldn't have achieved any of the amazing things we have in recent years. We love you, Vichai :blue_heart::blue_heart::blue_heart: #LCFC pic.twitter.com/I7fr3IRv5q
- Hayley Garrod (@GRODSTER) October 27, 2018
SPORTbible would like to send out its deepest condolences to Leicester City FC and all those who have been affected by this tragedy.
Featured Image Credit: PA