One of the five dead in the Leicester City helicopter crash was a former Thai beauty queen, it emerged today.
Leicester’s billionaire owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, 60, was confirmed dead in the horror crash in an emotional club statement this evening.
His pilot Eric Swaffer, 53, and his partner and flight instructor Izabela Roza Lechowicz, 46, also died in the inferno, along with family staff members Nursara Suknamai and Kaveporn Punpare.
Ms Suknami was a glamorous ex-beauty queen, who came second in Miss Universe Thailand 2005 and an added Miss Photogenic accolade in the Bangkok-based contest the same year.
She was active on social media, regularly posting snaps of her globetrotting, from Italy, Japan and Greece to escapes to the Cotswolds.
One of the five dead in the Leicester City helicopter crash was former Thai beauty queen Nursara Suknamai, it emerged this evening. Ms Suknamai worked for billionaire football club owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha but was also an ex-model. She is pictured in her last social media image posted to her Instagram on Wednesday
Ms Suknami (pictured) was a glamorous ex-beauty queen, who won Miss Universe Thailand 2005 and an added Miss Photogenic accolade in the Bangkok-based contest the same year
Kaveporn Punpare was also among those who died in the Leicester city helicopter horror crash on Saturday evening
Mr Srivaddhanaprabha’s helicopter was flown by Eric Swaffer, 53 (pictured left with the Dalai Lama) who has posted pictures of the craft on social media. His partner, also on board the ill-fated aircraft was flight instructor Izabela Lechowicz, 46 (pictured right)
The helicopter was carrying popular owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, 60 (pictured in November 2016), his pilot Eric Swaffer, 53 his girlfriend Izabela Roza Lechowicz, 46 and two members of Mr Srivaddhanaprabha’s staff Nursara Suknamai and Kaveporn Punpare, Leicester Police confirmed this evening
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 this evening, her social media pages were flooded with tributes.
One person wrote: ‘May you rest in peace you beautiful angel.’
She died after father-of-four Mr Srivaddhanaprabha’s chopper plummeted 200ft and crashed into the car park at the King Power stadium at 8.30pm on Saturday.
It had taken off from the centre circle of the club’s ground, but witnesses claim the engine cut out mid-air and it spiralled out of control.
Instead of crashing into the stands and hospitality areas the aircraft came down on empty land 200 yards from the stadium.
It avoided busy roads and the last of the 31,000 fans still in the area along with dozens of police officers.
She was active on social media, regularly posting snaps of her globetrotting, from Italy, Japan and Greece to escapes to the Cotswolds
Pilot Mr Swaffer was hailed a hero, but experts suspect the aircraft’s tail rotor failed, sending the £6million AugustaWestland AW169 into a ‘dead man’s curve’ that even the best pilot would not have been able to handle.
Fans anxiously awaited confirmation of the identities of all five casualties, which were kept from the public for 24 hours.
In a statement this evening, Leciestershire Police said: ‘Five people are believed to have died when a helicopter crashed outside the King Power Stadium yesterday evening (Saturday 27 October).
‘The five people were on board the helicopter when the incident happened. While formal identification has not yet taken place, they are believed to be Leicester City Football Club chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, two members of his staff, Nursara Suknamai and Kaveporn Punpare, pilot Eric Swaffer and passenger Izabela Roza Lechowicz.
‘The force has been working to ensure that all the relevant next of kin had been informed prior to this information being confirmed publicly.
‘The aircraft came down in a car park near the stadium shortly after 8.30pm with Leicestershire Police, East Midlands Ambulance Service and Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service all responding to the incident. No one else is believed to have been injured.
Tragic Ms Suknamai takes a selfie at a football game. She worked for Leicester City FC owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha
‘The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) is leading the investigation into the accident and a cordon remains in place at the scene while enquiries continue.
Leicestershire Police will be supporting the AAIB in its investigation, liaising closely with Leicester City Football Club as enquiries continue.
Superintendent Steve Potter added: ‘This is an incredibly tragic incident in which five people are understood have lost their lives.
‘Emergency services were immediately on scene when the crash happened, working to put out the fire and gain access to the helicopter in attempts to reach those inside. Despite those efforts, there were no survivors.
‘The AAIB is now leading an investigation to establish the exact circumstances surrounding the crash and investigators will remain at the scene to complete their initial enquiries.
‘It is likely to take several days to fully complete the necessary work and to safely deal with the scene of this tragic accident, during that time we ask that both the media and public resist speculating around the cause of the crash.
‘We appreciate that both the public and media were keen to be updated on the circumstances and to confirm if those on board the helicopter had survived, but before any detail could be issued publicly, it was vital that all immediate next of kin were informed of the tragic outcome.
Following the Leicester City 1-1 draw with West Ham, the helicopter was seen landing on the centre circle of the pitch
Pictured: The ill-fated AugustaWestland AW169 is pictured landing on the pitch at the King Power ground before it crashed
‘As our communities will understand, this was a matter that needed to be handled sensitively and with dignity, with the families of the deceased being at the heart of our response, which involved other agencies.
‘Our thoughts today are with the families of those who have sadly died, with Leicester City Football Club, and with both football supporters and the wider local community who have all been impacted by the events of last night and the news that those on board the aircraft have not survived.’
An emotional Leciester City FC statement posted this evening read: ‘It is with the deepest regret and a collective broken heart that we confirm our Chairman, Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, was among those to have tragically lost their lives on Saturday evening when a helicopter carrying him and four other people crashed outside King Power Stadium. None of the five people on-board survived.
‘The primary thoughts of everyone at the Club are with the Srivaddhanaprabha family and the families of all those on-board at this time of unspeakable loss.
‘In Khun Vichai, the world has lost a great man. A man of kindness, of generosity and a man whose life was defined by the love he devoted to his family and those he so successfully led. Leicester City was a family under his leadership.
The scene of the crash has been sealed off by police officers with a sheet covering one end of the helicopter in the stadium’s car park
The helicopter belonging to Leicester owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha crashed outside the King Power Stadium following Leicester’s 1-1 draw with West Ham yesterday and burst into a flames. He and the five others inside were tonight confirmed to have died
‘It is as a family that we will grieve his passing and maintain the pursuit of a vision for the Club that is now his legacy.
‘A book of condolence, which will be shared with the Srivaddhanaprabha family, will be opened at King Power Stadium from 8am on Tuesday 30 October for supporters wishing to pay their respects.
‘Supporters unable to visit King Power Stadium that wish to leave a message can do so through an online book of condolence, which will be made available via lcfc.com in due course.
‘Both Tuesday’s First Team fixture against Southampton in the EFL Cup and the Development Squad fixture against Feyenoord in the Premier League International Cup have been postponed.
‘Everyone at the Club has been truly touched by the remarkable response of the football family, whose thoughtful messages of support and solidarity have been deeply appreciated at this difficult time.’
Popular Leicester City owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha started with a duty free shop in 1989 and will always be the owner that guided club to title
By Nathan Salt for MailOnline
A helicopter belonging to Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha was engulfed in flames after taking off from the King Power Stadium following his side’s 1-1 draw with West Ham.
Srivaddhanaprabha usually departs the King Power inside his private helicopter after home games alongside other members of the club’s hierarchy.
Here, Sportsmail profiles Srivaddhanaprabha’s success in and out of football, including how he helped Leicester win the Premier League title in 2016.
He is fifth on the Thailand richlist of billionaires and is said to be worth close to £4billion
Srivaddhanaprabha was born in Bangkok on April 4, 1958 to a Thai Chinese family.
The Thai billionaire Srivaddhanaprabha kick-started his business journey by opening a duty free shop back in Bangkok in 1989 at the age of 31.
His retail company, King Power, is now a staple of the country’s airports and the brand also have the naming rights to Leicester City’s stadium.
Having been the club’s primary shirt sponsor for the three previous seasons, he wanted to step up his involvement and opted to go all in and become owner.
Buying the club for a reported £39million in 2010 proved a shrewd investment as he oversaw a meteoric rise which saw the Foxes historically win the Premier League title in 2015-16.
When he took over, the club had just earned promotion from League One, the third tier in the English football pyramid, and with Nigel Pearson trusted to remain in charge, the Foxes were quickly back in the Premier League.
According to Forbes, the Midlands club is now valued at £371m after becoming a staple of the top half in the league under Srivaddhanaprabha’s reign.
Ranked as fifth on Forbes’ Thailand rich list, Srivaddhanaprabha has built his empire up to a staggering $4.9billion (£3.8bn).
Sportsmail profiles the career of Leicester City’s Thai owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha
After enjoying rich success with Leicester – which saw them defy all the odds in reaching the knockout stages of the Champions League, Srivaddhanaprabha bought Belgian club OH Leuven in May 2017.
The club reside in the Brlgian second division but could act as a real beneficiary for young players at Leicester in the future.
Srivaddhanaprabha is a keen football supporter and has continued to put money into the Foxes with his son Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha involved as club vice-chairman.
He is married to Aimon Srivaddhanaprabha, and has four children Voramas, Apichet, Arunroong, and Aiyawatt.
He is popular among players and is regularly in attendance for matches at the King Power