Data recorder recovered from Leicester owner’s helicopter
Leicester, England — The flight data recorder from the helicopter that crashed with the Leicester soccer team’s owner on board is being examined by investigators, authorities said, as his family and players paid tribute Monday at a makeshift shrine.
Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha and four others were killed when the aircraft spiraled out of control, crashed and burst in flames outside the King Power Stadium following a Premier League game Saturday.
Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha, son of the Thai retail entrepreneur, brought a wreath to add to a collection of flowers, jerseys and club memorabilia that was growing after the disaster. Fans who gathered to pay respects broke into applause when Aiyawatt returned to the memorial with the players.
Investigators are expected to remain at the site until the end of the week, when the wreckage is to be taken to special facilities for examination, the Air Accidents Investigation Branch said.
“We recovered the digital flight data recorder (voice and data) on Sunday afternoon and one of our inspectors traveled back to Farnborough with the recorder the same evening,” the AAIB said in a statement. “Today, our inspectors in Farnborough will start working on the recorder, which was subject to intense heat as a result of the post-accident fire.”
Police have not given an update on the investigation but wrote on Twitter its drone “was not in flight at the time the helicopter left the stadium.”
Although only with Leicester for eight years, Vichai had a lasting impact on English soccer as the owner of the team that produced one of the greatest shocks in sports by winning the Premier League title at 5,000-1 odds in 2016.
Through horse racing and polo, the owner of Thailand’s King Power duty-free chain became known to members of the British royal family, playing on occasion with Princes Charles and William. He spent millions establishing his polo team, the King Power Foxes, which began in 2014 and has enjoyed success at the top levels of competition in Britain.
“I was lucky to have known Vichai for several years,” said Prince William, the second-in-line to the British throne. “He was a businessman of strong values who was dedicated to his family and who supported a number of important charitable causes. He made such a big contribution to football, not least through Leicester City’s magical 2016 season that captured the imagination of the world.”
Vichai’s close bond with the community in Leicester was reflected in the tributes to the owner who bankrolled the team’s return to the Premier League in 2014 and the improbable title triumph.
“The outpouring of grief is a testament to how many people’s lives were touched by those on board,” Prime Minister Theresa May said.
Two members of Vichai’s staff, Nursara Suknamai and Kaveporn Punpare, also died along with pilot Eric Swaffer and co-pilot Izabela Roza Lechowicz. In a regular scene after matches that had become a symbol of Vichai’s ownership, the helicopter took off from the center circle on the field after Saturday’s game against West Ham. It cleared the stadium roof before it plummeted into an adjacent parking lot in flames.
Leicester’s next game, which had been scheduled for Tuesday against Southampton in the League Cup, has been postponed.
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