Leicester

Leicester City helicopter crash: Owner's wife and son visit stadium

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionLeicester City owner's family lay a wreath at the King Power Stadium

The wife and son of Leicester City's owner have laid a wreath at the club's stadium after he was killed alongside four others in a helicopter crash.

Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, two members of staff, the pilot and a passenger all died after the aircraft spiralled out of control outside the ground.

The club's first team and youth squad were also at the King Power Stadium.

A team investigating Saturday night's crash has recovered the aircraft's digital flight data recorder.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionLeicester City's first team squad, including striker Jamie Vardy and goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel, paid their respects
Image copyright AFP/Getty
Image caption Manager Claude Puel has been outside the stadium

Leicestershire Police named the other people killed in the crash as Nusara Suknamai, Kaveporn Punpare, and pilots and partners Eric Swaffer and Izabela Roza Lechowicz.

Police have said Ms Lechowicz was a passenger at the time of the crash.

The club chairman's wife Aimon and son Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha were joined at the ground by the president of the Thai FA, Somyot Poompanmoung and his wife, Potjaman Poompanmoung.

Manager Claude Puel joined his players, while vice-chairman Aiyawatt returned to see the tributes after arriving earlier in the morning when around 200 fans broke into spontaneous applause.

The family met players inside the stadium before laying a wreath.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionLeicester City players paid their respects inside the stadium as the club owner's family lay a wreath

Former England goalkeeper Peter Shilton, who started his career at Leicester City, was leaving the stadium with his wife when he said he saw the helicopter "spiralling down".

"I was in shock and still am... we were so helpless," he said.

"It's something that will live with us forever. It's one of the most horrendous things anybody can ever see."

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionPeter Shilton, who started his career at Leicester City, said seeing the helicopter crash "will live with us forever"

Personalities from sport and entertainment have been outside the stadium, including the lead singer of Leicester rock band Kasabian, Tom Meighan.

Meighan, who joined grieving supporters, said the death of club owner Mr Vichai was like "losing a member of your family".

Club ambassador Alan Birchenall said Leicester City owed "everything" to him.

"There won't be a dry eye among any of the staff today," he added.

A book of condolence will open at the stadium on Tuesday morning and the team's match against Southampton in the EFL Cup that evening has been postponed.

Image copyright AFP/Getty
Image caption Other members of the first team joined the sombre crowds outside the ground
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Youth team player Darnell Johnson stepped through the tributes to lay a signed football shirt

Former Leicester City striker Gary Lineker said Mr Vichai gave "so much to the city" and changed the Foxes from a "run-of-the-mill club to one known all over the world."

The chairman was loved by fans for contributing to the team's success as Premier League champions in 2016, donating to local charities and often handing out beers, pies and scarves at games.

Claudio Ranieri, who led the Foxes to the title, told Sky Mr Vichai "came into the dressing room only to dispense kind words, never to reproach you".

"He was an illuminated man and everything he touched became better," he said.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionGary Lineker said Leicester's owner "gave so much to the club and the city"

In a statement, Leicester City said the club's thoughts were with "the Srivaddhanaprabha family and the families of all those on-board at this time of unspeakable loss".

Many of the players have also paid tribute to Mr Vichai on social media, including club captain Wes Morgan.

He tweeted: "Absolutely heartbroken and devastated regarding the news of our chairman. A man that was loved and adored by everyone here at lcfc."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Thousands of floral tributes and football shirts have been laid outside the King Power Stadium, including from fans of other teams
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Foxes midfielder James Maddison (left) was pictured hugging a member of the security team as he arrived at the King Power Stadium

Earlier on Monday, the Duke of Cambridge paid tribute to Mr Vichai, calling him a "dedicated family man".

Prince William said Mr Vichai made a big contribution to football, adding Leicester City's Premier League title-winning season "captured the imagination of the world".

Prime Minister Theresa May said: "The outpouring of grief is a testament to how many people's lives were touched by those on board."

Jose Ragoobeer, whose wife and two sons died in an explosion at their home in February, called Mr Vichai "a great person" after he gave his family use of the stadium for the funeral.

"He really gave all to Leicester City and Leicester as a whole," he added.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Foxes fans in Bangkok have been leaving tributes at the King Power company headquarters

Leicester City fans in Thailand have also been laying football shirts and flowers at the King Power company's headquarters in Bangkok.

One of them told Reuters: "It's a sad day for our city of Leicester, it's a sad day for King Power, it's a sad day for the families.

"I'm just shocked and saddened."

Another said: "When Vichai took over we were a club on the edge of failure and deep financial problems. He gave us hope."

Mr Swaffer had over 20 years' flying experience as a private jet and helicopter pilot.

His friend Lucie Morris-Marr said he was a "veteran in the field" and would have done all he could to prevent lives being lost in the crash.

She described him as a "funny and vivacious" man who was in an "aviation love story" with Ms Lechowicz, who was also a pilot.

"Not many people get to work and travel with their soulmate, travelling the world going to glamorous places," she said.

The couple lived together in Camberley, Surrey. Ms Lechowicz moved to the UK from Poland in 1997.

Image copyright Jadwiga Bronte/Polish Embassy/Facebook/Instagram
Image caption (L-R) Izabela Roza Lechowicz, Eric Swaffer, Nusara Suknamai and Kaveporn Punpare all died in the crash

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) said inspectors would be at the crash site until the end of week before transporting the wreckage to specialist facilities in Farnborough.

"In the meantime, we are still gathering evidence as part of our investigation," a spokesman said.

Italian aerospace company Leonardo, which built the helicopter, said it was "first ever accident involving an AW169 helicopter" and it was "ready to support the AAIB".

Witnesses have been urged to contact Leicestershire Police.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Mr Vichai was killed along with four others in a helicopter crash outside the stadium on Saturday

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites