Sussex school’s tribute to pilot who died in Leicester helicopter crash

Aerial view of the floral tributes outside the King Power Stadium, in Leicester (Photograph: Tristan Potter/SWNS.com)
Aerial view of the floral tributes outside the King Power Stadium, in Leicester (Photograph: Tristan Potter/SWNS.com)

The pilot who died in a tragic helicopter crash outside the King Power stadium in Leicester on Saturday (October 27) was a former schoolboy in Sussex.

Pilot Eric Swaffer was one of five people who died in the helicopter crash, Leicestershire Police confirmed last night (October 28).

Aerial view of the King Power Stadium in Leicester after the helicopter crash on Saturday night (Photograph: Tristan Potter/SWNS.com)

Aerial view of the King Power Stadium in Leicester after the helicopter crash on Saturday night (Photograph: Tristan Potter/SWNS.com)

Police said chairman of Leicester City Football Club Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, two members of his staff, Nusara Suknamai and Kaveporn Punpare, and passenger Izabela Roza Lechowicz, also died in the crash.

Richard Cairns, headmaster of Brighton College paid tribute to Mr Swaffer, and said: “It is with great sadness that the school learnt today that one of our former pupils, Eric Swaffer, died at the weekend after the helicopter he was piloting crashed near the Leicester city football ground while transporting the club’s owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha.

“Eric was at Brighton College from 1979 to 1983 and fell in love with flying when, as a schoolboy CCF cadet, he visited a Royal Navy ship flight deck. His contemporaries and teachers remember him as a kind and popular boy. We send our deepest condolences to his family.”

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Leicestershire Police confirmed last night that five people died when a helicopter crashed outside the King Power Stadium on Saturday evening.

A police spokesperson said: “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.

“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.”

Superintendent Steve Potter said: “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. 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.”