Czech billionaire killed 5 in heli-skiing crash near Alaska glacier

Officials said five people, including the Czech Republic’s richest man, were killed on a heli-skiing excursion on Saturday when their helicopter crashed near a glacier in Alaska.

Petr Kallner, a Czech billionaire with a net worth of $ 17.5 billion Forbes, Was boarding an Airbus AS350 B3 helicopter when he went down near Naik Glacier, the lodge the plane had leased on Sunday.

Mr. Kelner, aged 56, was killed along with Benjamin LaRochaux, another guest at the Tordrillo Mountain Lodge in the Republic of Colorado; Two guides of the lodge, Gregory Harms and Sean McManney; Officials said the pilot of the helicopter, Zach Russell.

One survivor was listed in critical but stable condition according to Alaska State Troopers, stating that the National Transportation Safety Board would conduct an investigation to determine what caused the crash. Emergency responders said they were informed at 10 a.m. Saturday that the helicopter had not returned from an excursion and that the wreckage had been observed from an accident near Naik Glacier.

The accident was the latest notoriety for an extreme sport with little margin for error that has become a magnet for thrill-seekers. Flights to remote mountains, untouched powder playgrounds, are known for their steep price tags and exposure.

The lodge, which offers a weekly package of $ 15,000 per person for shared accommodation and heli-skiing charters, expressed sorrow about the accident in a statement Sunday night.

“This news is disastrous for our employees, the community in which we work and the families of the deceased,” Lodge said. “This is the first time in 17 years of operation that we have encountered the occurrence of this measure.”

A representative for the lodge, which is in Judak Lake, Alaska, said he did not know what the accident was. Officials said the helicopter was operated by Soloy helicopters in Wasilla, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The lodge confirmed that he had hired the flight.

According to Lodge, Mr. Kelner was a frequent guest and friend of the resort.

Mr. Kelner made his first fortune in the 1990s after starting an investment fund, which he used to buy a controlling stake in the country’s largest insurance company.

In October, he acquired a major European broadcasting network, Central European Media Enterprises, for $ 1.1 billion, raising concerns in the Czech Republic that the network would lose independence. But in a statement released at the time, Mr Kelner said the acquisition was driven by a “sense of responsibility” and vowed that the network would maintain its impartiality.

Czech news media reported that his investment company, PPF Group, has also donated millions of MPs and masks and thousands of coronovirus test kits and swabs.

According to his company website, he was married with four children.

According to Lodge, 52-year-old Mr. Harms was a pioneer of the Alaskan heli-skiing community and operated his touring business, Third Age Healy. Mr. McManani, 38, was a guide for more than 10 years and was an avalanche instructor, Lodge said.

Details about 50-year-old Mr. LaRoucheux and 33-year-old Mr. Russell were not immediately available.

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