Petr Kellner, Czech Billionaire, Is Amongst 5 Killed in Alaska Heli-Snowboarding Crash

5 individuals, together with the Czech Republic’s richest man, had been killed on a heli-skiing tour on Saturday when their chopper crashed close to a glacier in Alaska, officers stated.

The Czech billionaire, Petr Kellner, whose internet price has been estimated at $17.5 billion by Forbes, was aboard the Airbus AS350 B3 helicopter when it went down close to Knik Glacier, the lodge that chartered the plane stated on Sunday.

Mr. Kellner, 56, was killed, together with one other visitor of the Tordrillo Mountain Lodge, Benjamin Larochaix, additionally of the Czech Republic; two of the lodge’s guides, Gregory Harms and Sean McNamamy; and the helicopter’s pilot, Zachary Russell, officers stated.

One survivor was listed in critical however secure situation, in keeping with the Alaska State Troopers, which stated that the Nationwide Transportation Security Board would conduct an investigation to find out what precipitated the crash. Emergency responders stated they had been notified at 10 p.m. on Saturday that the helicopter had not returned from an tour and that particles from a crash had been noticed close to Knik Glacier.

The accident was the most recent misadventure for an excessive sport with little margin for error that has change into a magnet for thrill seekers. Flights to distant mountains, playgrounds of untouched powder, are identified for his or her steep value tags and threat.

The lodge, which presents weekly packages of $15,000 per particular person for shared lodging and heli-skiing charters, expressed its sorrow in regards to the crash in a press release on Sunday evening.

“This information is devastating to our workers, the neighborhood through which we function and the households of the deceased,” the lodge stated. “In 17 years of operations that is the primary time we’ve needed to face an occasion of this measure.”

A consultant for the lodge, which is in Judd Lake, Alaska, stated she didn’t know what precipitated the crash. Officers stated the helicopter was operated by Soloy Helicopters in Wasilla, which didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark. The lodge confirmed that it had chartered the flight.

In response to the lodge, Mr. Kellner was a frequent visitor and pal of the resort. His funding firm, PPF Group, additionally confirmed the dying in a press release launched Monday, saying that the crash was below investigation.

“His skilled life was identified for his unbelievable work ethic and creativity, however his personal life belonged to his household,” the corporate stated of Mr. Kellner, including that the funeral can be held with solely shut relations.

Mr. Kellner made his first fortune within the 1990s after beginning an funding fund, which he used to purchase a controlling stake within the nation’s largest insurance coverage firm.

In October, he acquired a serious European broadcast community, Central European Media Enterprises, for $1.1 billion, elevating issues within the Czech Republic that the community would possibly lose independence. However in a press release launched on the time, Mr. Kellner stated the acquisition was pushed by “a way of duty” and vowed that the community would retain its objectivity.

PPF Group has additionally donated hundreds of thousands of respirators and masks and 1000’s of coronavirus testing kits and swabs to assist the Czech Republic within the pandemic, the Czech information media reported.

He was married with 4 kids, in keeping with his firm’s web site.

In response to the lodge, Mr. Harms, 52, was a pioneering information within the Alaskan heli-skiing neighborhood and operated his personal tour enterprise, Third Edge Heli. Mr. McNamamy, 38, had been a information for greater than 10 years and was an avalanche teacher, the lodge stated.

Particulars about Mr. Larochaix, 50, and Mr. Russell, 33, the pilot, weren’t instantly obtainable.

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