Estate of late Leicester City team owner sued over crash
BANGKOK (AP) — The family of an employee of the Thai owner of England’s Leicester City soccer team who died in a helicopter crash that also took her boss’s life sued his estate and his family’s duty-free business on Monday for 300 million baht ($9.8 million).
Former beauty queen Nusara Suknamai, 33, was one of five people killed when team owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha’s helicopter crashed and burst into flames shortly after takeoff from the soccer field following an Oct. 27, 2018, Premier League match.
Vichai was one of Thailand’s wealthiest businessman, who prospered through his family’s ownership of the King Power duty-free chain, which holds monopolies at most of the country’s international airports. Before his death at age 63, Forbes magazine estimated his business empire to be worth $4.88 billion, making him the fifth-richest person in Thailand at the time.
He oversaw one of the greatest underdog successes in sports when his 5,000-1 outsider won the English Premier League title in 2016.
Nusara was a runner-up in 2005 Thailand’s Miss Universe competition before entering Vichai’s employ.
Pinit Laksanavisit, a lawyer for Nusara’s family, said the suit was filed in Bangkok Civil Court because Thai law holds the aircraft’s owner responsible for any harm to passengers.
“Mr. Vichai was the owner of that helicopter and also there was the name of King Power on it,” he told The Associated Press.
Aviation accident investigators determined that the crash occurred when the pilot lost control of the aircraft because of a mechanical fault.
Britain’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch said last December that the mechanism linking the pilot’s pedals with the tail rotor blades became disconnected, resulting in the helicopter making an uncontrollable right turn before it spun and crashed.
Pinit said Nussara’s family had been in talks for more than 10 months with representatives of the Sriwatanaprapa family and King Power.
“It seems they are trying to get away from their responsibility,” Pinit said.
Representatives for King Power declined to comment on the lawsuit.
Pinit said an initial court hearing is scheduled for Nov. 26, but his clients remain open to negotiating a settlement.