The Latest: Players mourn Leicester owner Vichai after crash
LEICESTER, England (AP) — The Latest on the helicopter crash at English soccer club Leicester City (all times local):
Leicester players have expressed their sense of deep loss after Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, the club’s owner, and four other people were killed in a helicopter crash.
Striker Jamie Vardy wrote on Instagram of Vichai: “To me you are legend, an incredible man who had the biggest heart, the soul of Leicester City Football Club. Thank you for everything you did for me, my family and our club. I will truly miss you.... may you rest in peace...#theboss.”
Leicester and England defender Harry Maguire posted on Twitter how Vichai had supported him at club and at international level during the World Cup, describing the Thai billionaire as “A truly great, kind, loving man who will be missed so much by everyone.”
Kasper Schmeichel led the Leicester lineup on Saturday and was still at the stadium when the helicopter crashed to the ground in an adjacent car park.
“I am so totally devastated. I just cannot believe what I saw last night,” Schmeichel posted on Twitter. “We all know about the investment in the football club you and your family have made. But this is about so much more. You cared so deeply for the entire community. Your endless contribution to Leicester’s hospitals and charities will never be forgotten.”
Schmeichel said the players and fans had a responsibility to honor Vichai’s memory.
Local police have released the names of the other four people who they believe died in the helicopter crash that killed Leicester City owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha.
Leicestershire Police say two were members of Vichai’s staff: Nursara Suknamai and Kaveporn Punpare. Also killed were pilot Eric Swaffer and passenger Izabela Roza Lechowicz.
The police force says formal identification has not yet taken place, and that no one else was believed to have been injured.
English soccer club Leicester City says Thai owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha was among five people who died when a helicopter crashed next to the stadium.
The 60-year-old retail entrepreneur’s helicopter burst into flames shortly after taking off from the soccer field Saturday at the team’s King Power stadium which is named after his duty-free chain. The club did not name the other four victims.
Vichai bought Leicester for 39 million pounds ($50 million) in 2010 when it was in the second-tier Championship and bankrolled the revival that peaked with the 5,000-1 outsiders improbably wining the English Premier League in 2016.
Having accomplished one of the greatest underdog stories in the history of sports, the central England team is now valued by Forbes at 371 million pounds ($476 million).
In a statement, Leicester says “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.”
A person with knowledge of the situation says the Thai owner of English Premier League club Leicester was on a helicopter that crashed and burst into flames shortly after taking off from the soccer field at the team’s King Power stadium in central England.
The person says Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, the team’s owner of eight years, was on board with four others, none of whom were his family members.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity Sunday because they were not authorized to release details of the passengers.
There was no official word on casualties from Saturday’s crash as investigators examined the wreckage, and hundreds of fans brought tributes to the stadium.
The 60-year-old Vichai, who owns Thai duty-free retail giant King Power, is known for arriving and leaving the stadium in his helicopter.
Police say the air accident watchdog has launched an investigation into why the aircraft fell to the ground in a parking lot near King Power stadium.
The Air Accident Investigation Branch has been deployed to the site and is looking into the circumstances of the crash.
Flowers and wreaths have been laid outside Leicester’s City’s stadium, the morning after a helicopter belonging to the English club’s Thai owner crashed in flames next to the ground.
Small bouquets were left by members of the public alongside a large image of the Hindu god Ganesh, which was also propped up among the flowers. A small candle was placed in front of the flowers as people gathered at the stadium.
The club from central England has said it is assisting authorities with “a major incident” at the stadium after eyewitnesses reported seeing the helicopter plummet to the ground shortly after it took off from the field following a Premier League game between Leicester and West Ham on Saturday night.