Leicester City’s billionaire owner and four others who were killed in a helicopter crash outside the stadium had a “minimal” chance to survive, an inquest heard on Tuesday.
Club chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, 60, died along with his assistants Kavenporn Punpare and Nusara Suknamai, 33, as well as pilot Eric Swaffer, 53, and his girlfriend Izabela Roza Lechowicz, 46, in the crash at the King Power Stadium on 27 October. Detective Chief Superintendent David Sandall of Leicestershire Police confirmed the deaths at Leicester’s Coroner’s Court on Tuesday as the inquest into the tragedy opened.
The court also heard that the victims were captured on CCTV standing in the players’ tunnel near the pitch before boarding the owner’s helicopter from the centre of the pitch, a tradition at Leicester home matches.
“Mobile phone footage and CCTV shows the moment the helicopter was spinning out of control,” DCS Sandall added. “CCTV shows the five victims in the tunnel at Leicester City football ground. There was minimal opportunity for anyone to get in or out of the helicopter [before or after the crash].
Adjourning the inquest to a later date, Leicester Senior Coroner Catherine Mason said: “The provisional cause of death is pending subject to further tests.
“Therefore I’m not in a position to carry on at this time so I am suspending the inquest.”
Elsewhere, the LCFC Foxes Foundation has been renamed The Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha Foundation in honour of Leicester’s late chairman.
The foundation has raised almost £2m for local charities since it started in 2011-12 while Srivaddhanaprabha had personally donated £4m to the city’s universities, hospitals and charities.
After postponing their midweek Carabao Cup tie against Southampton, Leicester won 1-0 at Cardiff in the Premier League, their first match since the tragedy.
Demarai Gray scored the only goal of the game and revealed a message for the former chairman that said: “For Khun Vichai”. After the match Kasper Schmeichel said he would forever be haunted by the memory of the owner’s death. “I was on the pitch and I waved him off,” said the Foxes goalkeeper.
“It is something that will stay with me, unfortunately. I saw it all happen. It’s not a nice memory but I’ve had all the support that I need. The club has been great and everybody has received the support that they needed.”
“It was tough,” Schmeichel said of their win in Cardiff. “But we wanted to do it for the chairman and his family. We wanted to be together about this, because we’ve all lost what feels like a family member.”
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