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Czech Republic's richest man, Petr Kellner, is killed in Alaskan helicopter crash: Financier, 56, once linked with buying Chelsea from Roman Abramovich is among five killed in heli-ski tragedy

 The Czech Republic's richest man has been killed with four others in a helicopter crash during a skiing trip in Alaska.

Petr Kellner, 56, a billionaire financier and friend of Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, died near Knik Glacier, around 50 miles east of Anchorage on Saturday.

The others killed were Benjamin Larochaix, 50, also of the Czech Republic; Gregory Harms, 52, of Colorado; and two Alaskans, Sean McMannany, 38, of Girdwood, and the pilot, Zachary Russel, 33, of Anchorage. 

All five were discovered dead at the crash site, while a sixth person was rushed to hospital and remains in a serious but stable condition, Alaska State Troopers said.  

The passengers included three guests and two guides from Tordrillo Mountain Lodge, which provides luxurious heli-skiing packages starting at £11,000 per head. 

A contracted helicopter carrying guides and guests from a lodge on a heli-skiing trip in Alaska's backcountry crashed, killing the pilot and four others, including the Czech Republic's richest man Petr Kellner (pictured)

A contracted helicopter carrying guides and guests from a lodge on a heli-skiing trip in Alaska's backcountry crashed, killing the pilot and four others, including the Czech Republic's richest man Petr Kellner (pictured)

The helicopter crashed near Knik Glacier, around 50 miles east of Anchorage. The rescue team arrived to find five occupants dead and a sole survivor, who was taken to a hospital.

The helicopter crashed near Knik Glacier, around 50 miles east of Anchorage. The rescue team arrived to find five occupants dead and a sole survivor, who was taken to a hospital.

The Prime Minister of the Czech Republic today paid tribute to Kellner, an investment titan with a net worth of more than £12 billion ($17 billion).

'An unbelievable tragedy,' said minister Andrej Babis, who offered his condolences to the family.

'I'm terribly sorry about it.' 

Kellner owned a 98.93% stake in the PPF Group, an international investment company.

The group operates in 25 countries in Europe, Asia and North America with assets amounting to £37 billion (44 billion euros).

Kellner was a former co-owner of Czech football club Slavia Prague and was at one time linked with buying Chelsea Football Club in London. 

Slavia Prague tweeted: 'Slavia would like to offer its deepest and most sincere condolences to the family and friends of Mr. Kellner.'

Kellner kept a low public profile and rarely talked to the media.

In a statement sent via the Czech CTK agency, PPF Group asked for people to respect the family's privacy.

It said the funeral will be organised strictly for the family. CTK reported that he had been married twice and had four children.

Kellner was a friend of Abramovich and was linked with buying Chelsea Football Club at one point

Kellner was a friend of Abramovich and was linked with buying Chelsea Football Club at one point

Tordrillo Mountain Lodge spokeswoman Mary Ann Pruitt said Kellner and Larochaix 'were loyal and frequent' guests at the holiday retreat.

Harms was a pioneering heli-ski guide in Alaska and worked for many years at the lodge, Pruitt said.

'Greg was one of the most experienced guides in the business,' she said.

He also founded a heli-ski company that led trips across the world.

McMannany had been a guide for over 10 years, and was with the lodge for the last five, she said.

He was also an avalanche instructor and an experienced mountain guide on Denali, North America's tallest peak.

Russel was a pilot for Soloy Helicopters, a Wasilla-based company that is contracted by the lodge to provide transportation, Pruitt said.

'This news is devastating to our staff, the community in which we operate and the families of the deceased,' a statement released by the lodge said.

The Eurocopter AS50 crashed under unknown circumstances about 50 miles east of Anchorage at 6.35 p.m. Saturday, the Federal Aviation Administration said Sunday. Authorities said the crash site was near Knik Glacier.

The lodge is located about 60 miles northwest of Anchorage, on Judd Lake.

The company website bills itself as the longest operating heli-skiing lodge in Alaska, promising deep powder, pristine runs on some of the best mountain terrain in the world.

'An unparalleled alpine adventure is only a helicopter ride away,' the website says. 

The statement from lodge said this was the first time in its 17 years in business 'we´ve had to face an event of this measure.'

Soloy Helicopters has a fleet of 19 helicopters providing charter services primarily in Alaska.

Kellner was a friend of Abramovich and at one time linked with buying Chelsea Football Club in London

Kellner was a friend of Abramovich and at one time linked with buying Chelsea Football Club in London

Tordrillo Mountain Lodge hosts guests throughout the year in Alaska, specialising in heli-skiing in the winter

Tordrillo Mountain Lodge hosts guests throughout the year in Alaska, specialising in heli-skiing in the winter

Its website says it provides support to government and industry, specialising in work for seismic oil drilling exploration programs.

Soloy Helicopters did not immediately respond to an email to The Associated Press seeking comment Sunday.

Alaska State Troopers said in a statement Sunday that they received a report of an overdue helicopter and the location of possible crash debris Saturday night.


A rescue team from Alaska Rescue Coordination Center was dispatched to the crash site in the area of Knik Glacier just after 10 p.m., troopers wrote.

The team arrived to find five occupants dead and a sole survivor, who was taken to a hospital.

The Alaska Army National Guard and volunteers from the Alaska Mountain Rescue Group recovered the bodies from the crash site Sunday and turned them over to the state medical examiner.

A temporary flight restriction placed over the glacier has been lifted, troopers said.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the case of the crash.

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