Luton, Monday @PeopleSports11
Tributes kept on flowing for the better part of yesterday as the five victims of the Leicester City helicopter crash have been named including its billionaire owner, his assistant, a Thai beauty queen turned PA and the hero pilot and his girlfriend co-pilot who potentially saved hundreds of lives by crashing away from crowds on the ground.
The Premier League club’s biggest stars and football fans from all over country have expressed their grief as it was confirmed none of the five on board survived when the aircraft fell from the sky outside the King Power Stadium at about 8.30pm on Saturday night.
Leicester City Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, 61, who bought the club for £39 million in 2010 and led it to a first Premier League title in 2015, was described as a ‘great man’ of ‘kindness’ and ‘generosity’.
Beauty queen Nursara Suknamai, his assistant Kaveporn Punpare and also pilot Eric Swaffer, who previously flew members of the Royal Family, and his girlfriend and co-pilot Izabela Roza Lechowicz all perished alongside him.
Mr Swaffer is believed to have saved the lives of hundreds of fans by steering the doomed aircraft away from vulnerable fans on the ground.
Leicester City’s Carabao Cup tie with Southampton on Tuesday evening has also been postponed following the helicopter crash.
The fourth-round fixture, scheduled to be played at the King Power Stadium, will be played at a later date, the EFL confirmed.
The club, city and wider football community have been left in a state of shock and mourning after the helicopter carrying Srivaddhanaprabha spun out of control shortly after taking off from the pitch following Saturday’s 1-1 draw with West Ham.
Leicester’s players and staff will be offered counselling in the wake of the tragedy, a source told the Daily Mirror.
Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel was seen running towards the stricken helicopter seconds after it crashed and watched it explode and said last night: ‘I cannot believe what I saw. It just doesn’t seem real’.
In a message for the owner who signed him in 2011 he said: ‘Never have I ever come across a man like you. You touched everyone. You changed football. Forever. You gave hope to everyone that the impossible was possible.
‘It is difficult to put into words how much you have meant to this football club and to the city of Leicester. You cared so deeply for the entire community. Your endless contribution to Leicester’s hospitals and charities will never be forgotten.
‘When you signed me back in 2011 you said to me we would be in the Champions League within six years and we would do great things. You inspired me and I believed in you. You literally made my dreams come true’.
Experts suspect the helicopter’s tail rotor failed, sending the £6million AgustaWestland into a ‘dead man’s curve’ that no pilot could handle.
Mr Srivaddhanaprabha’s helicopter was often flown by Mr Swaffer, 53, who has posted pictures of the craft on social media.
He and his partner Izabela Lechowicz, 46 were from Camberley in Surrey and were part of the owner’s family’s close team. Mr Swaffer was a close friend of Israeli illusionist Uri Geller, 71, who had known the pilot for years.
Ex-beauty queen Nursara Suknamai also died at the scene. She came second in Miss Universe Thailand 2005 and an added Miss Photogenic accolade in the Bangkok-based contest the same year.
Ms Suknami was also a fitness fanatic, often sharing workout and yoga videos to Instagram. She had also shared images of herself at Leicester games with the hashtag #foxes #lcfc and #fearless.
Her last post on social media was four days ago, when she uploaded a smiling selfie with the caption ‘Wednesday #wednesday #redlipstick’.
After news of her death broke with the club statement last night, her social media pages were flooded with tributes. One person wrote: ‘May you rest in peace you beautiful angel.’
Premier league matches took place across the country as fans fell silent in solidarity with Leicester, whose fans gathered to lay flowers at the King Power Stadium. -DAILYMAIL