Video captures final seconds of King Power boss’ fatal helicopter crash (video)

Chilling video has emerged of the final seconds of the ill-fated helicopter flight last Saturday (Oct.27) of King Power Group and Leicester City Football Club (LCFC) boss Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha.

The 1:08 minute clip uploaded to YouTube appears to be recorded off a television, shows video that appears to have been originally recorded from the stands of King Power Stadium at the time Mr Srivaddhanaprabha and four other people were departing.

In the background the stands are empty, the majority of supporters already well on their way home following the 1-1 draw LCFC played with West Ham United earlier in the evening.

The helicopter appears to backfire several times as the engines are started. A large plume of white smoke is discharged from the exhaust closest to the videographer. It is unclear if the noises were recorded at the time the original video was made, or if it is noise captured during its copying.

With the rotors spun-up the AgustaWestland AW169 begins its ascent, rapidly becoming a white arrow-shaped silhouette in the sky. At between 0:46 and 0:47 seconds (use slow motion) an object that some people are speculating is one of the helicopter’s tail rotors appears to shoot down with great velocity from the direction of the doomed helicopter.

The aircraft almost immediately begins to spin, an indication, an experienced helicopter pilot told AEC News Today that is atypical of what occurs when a helicopter looses control of it’s tail rotor.

Death spiral: nothing to do but hang on

With what appears to be other fragments falling in the same direction as the first, the doomed helicopter continues to spin, before spiralling out of sight behind the King Power Stadium roof.

The silhouette of Mr Srivaddhanaprabha's helicopter on the right, and an object that appears to have fallen from the stricken helicopter on the left
The silhouette of Mr Srivaddhanaprabha’s helicopter on the right, and an object that appears to have fallen from the stricken helicopter on the left

“Without a tail rotor to control horizontal movement the helicopter will spin beneath the main rotor”, the pilot, who did not wish to be identified, said. “

In that situation there’s not much you can do except cut the power to the engine and hang on. You’re going down”, he added.

According to England police Nursara Suknamai and Kaveporn Punpare, two of Mr Srivaddhanaprabha’s staff, along with pilot-couple Eric Swaffer and Izabela Roza Lechowicz were also killed in the crash.

Mr Srivaddhanaprabha bought LCFC in 2010 for about US$50 million and is credited with being the force (money) behind it clawing its way out of the English Football League (EFL) third division to win its first Premier League title in 2016.

In 2017 he extended his football interest with the purchase of the Belgian club OH Leuven which plays in the Belgian second division.

Empire under threat

Ranked as Thailand’s fifth richest person, Mr Srivaddhanaprabha founded the country’s nascent duty-free industry in 1989. The King Power Group has grown to  control more than 90 per cent of commercial space at all major Thai airports. His net personal wealth was put at between $3.3 – $5 billion. However, the empire is under threat.

State-owned Airports of Thailand (AOT) is soon to put the commercial spaces at airports up for auction. The transparency and good governance policies espoused by the Chan-o-cha administration make it unlikely that a sole master contractor will be acceptable, such as the deal Mr Srivaddhanaprabha did with fugitive former prime Thaksin Shinawatatra in 2006 for Suvarnabhumi International Airport.

In September a Thai court dismissed a criminal prosecution against the company alleging that it had short-changed the government some Bt14 billion (about US$427 mln) in income-sharing over its Bangkok Airport franchise.

Mr Srivaddhanaprabha’s body is expected in Bangkok today. Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun has sponsored royal bathing rites on Saturday at Wat Debsirindrawas Ratchaworawiharn, a Buddhist temple built in 1876 by order of King Rama V in honour of his mother, Queen Debsirindra.  The 5.30pm ceremony is to be attended by LCFC team members.

In addition to bestowing an octagonal funerary urn and funeral water, King Bodindradebayavarangkun has also reportedly sponsored three nights of Buddhist Abhidhamma chanting, which will continue through until the following Saturday.

 

Updated: This article was last updated at 14:39 on November 3, 2018. An earlier version of this story said five other people were onboard Mr Srivaddhanaprabha’s helicopter. There were four other people on the helicopter. The error has been corrected.

 

Related:

  • Leicester City owner built empire on ambition and connections (Financial Times)
  • Thai court rejects lawsuit against company of Leicester City owner (The Nation)
  • Leicester owner’s death comes as Thai duty-free monopoly is about to end (Investvine)
  • King Power/ LCFC boss killed in fiery England helicopter crash (video) (AEC News Today)

 

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John Le Fevre

Thailand editor/ managing editor at AEC News Today

John is an Australian national with more than 35 years experience as a journalist, photographer, videographer and copy editor.

He has spent extensive periods of time working in Africa and throughout Southeast Asia.

He has covered major world events including the 1991 pillage riots in Zaire, the 1994 Rwanda genocide, the 1999 East Timor independence unrest, the 2004 Asian tsunami, and the 2009, 2010 and 2014 Bangkok political protests.

In 1995 he was a Walkley Award finalist, the highest awards in Australian journalism, for his coverage of the 1995 Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo) Ebola outbreak.

Prior to AEC News Today he was the deputy editor and Thailand and Greater Mekong Sub-region editor for The Establishment Post.

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