In one of the most tragic moments in recent sports history, the private helicopter of British soccer club Leicester City’s owner, Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, crashed moments after his team’s Premier League game against West Ham on Saturday night, reports BBC.
Srivaddhanaprabha, one of the richest men in Thailand, took over the ownership at Leicester in 2010 and has since transformed the fortunes of the club, leading the team to an unexpected Premier League title in 2016 against all odds — in what was described as the biggest underdog success story in modern soccer.
On Saturday, after his team had drawn 1-1 against West Ham, the owner’s helicopter took off from the pitch as it does after every home game. Srivaddhanaprabha, who usually attends every match, flies off to London in his private helicopter typically and is believed to have been on board when the helicopter spiraled out of control and went in flames a few hundred meters away from the stadium. The reports remain unconfirmed almost 12 hours after the accident, though, since the identities of those traveling in the helicopter have not been made public yet.
The haunting moment the helicopter crashed is believed to have been caught on tape by BT studios cameras at its postgame show where presenter Jake Humphrey could be seen chatting with guests including Owen Hargreaves, Chris Sutton, and John Hartson. The group chatted about the owner and the cameras showed the helicopter waiting to take off in the center of the pitch. Moments later, though, as Owen Hargreaves talked about the game, a loud sound resembling an explosion could be heard live on air. The presenter promptly announced an ad break.
When the show returned, however, a sunken-faced Humphrey announced that the helicopter they had just seen taking off had crashed outside the stadium, with emergency services still figuring out the details of the accident.
Is this the moment? You can hear some sort of explosion. Thoughts with all involved ???? pic.twitter.com/VIkyAN3Cav
— Ben Trant (@BenTrant7) October 27, 2018
Theres a major incident by the King Power Stadium. Emergency services attending. pic.twitter.com/GtAbo6AHpD
— Mr Geoff Peters (@mrgeoffpeters) October 27, 2018
My God.. this Leicester City helicopter crash scene is horrific. pic.twitter.com/Gb7EJwlDB8
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) October 27, 2018
Freelance photographer Ryan Brown, who was present at the scene when the helicopter came down in flames, said that the engine went silent.
“I heard the helicopter take off,” he told BBC.
“I turned around and it made a whirring noise and grinding noise and then went silent, it was spinning out of control.”
“The blades had stopped spinning and then there was a big bang and a big fireball. Lots of people started running towards the scene, as I came around the corner there was a huge fireball.
At any given time, it is believed that Leicester City’s owner uses the helicopter to transport up to 20 dignitaries (including family and friends) from the stadium to London, where Srivaddhanaprabha has a home. Although no confirmed reports about exactly who was on board exist at the moment, the sheer fact that we have not heard about anyone having survived the accident is frightening.
Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone involved in the accident.