The Czech Republic’s richest man, billionaire Petr Kellner, died in a helicopter crash in Alaska, his financial group PPF said on Monday. He was 56.
Kellner, whose net worth has been estimated at $17.5 billion by Forbes, was aboard the Airbus AS350 B3 helicopter when it went down near Knik Glacier, the lodge that chartered the aircraft said on Sunday.
Kellner was killed, along with another guest of the Tordrillo Mountain Lodge, Benjamin Larochaix, also of the Czech Republic; two of the lodge’s guides, Gregory Harms and Sean McMannany; and the helicopter’s pilot, Zach Russel, officials said.
One injured passenger remains in serious but stable condition and is receiving medical care at an Anchorage area hospital.
The helicopter was an Airbus AS350B3 owned by Soloy Helicopters of Wasilla, Alaska. The group is believed to have been heliskiing in the area.
The deceased have been turned over to the Alaska State Medical Examiner.
Emergency responders said they were notified at 10 p.m. on Saturday that the helicopter had not returned from an excursion and that debris from a crash had been observed near Knik Glacier.
“We announce with the deepest grief that, in a helicopter accident in Alaska mountains on Saturday, March 27, the founder and majority owner of the PPF group, Mr. Petr Kellner, died tragically,” PPF said in a statement.
His roots go back to the 1990s when he set up PPF as an investment company with partners to take part in the country’s scheme to privatise hundreds of state-owned companies.
PPF went on to grow in insurance, finance, telecommunications, manufacturing, media or biotech in businesses spanning mainly Europe, Asia and the United States.
His investment company has also donated millions of respirators and masks and thousands of coronavirus testing kits and swabs to help the Czech Republic in the pandemic.
He was married with four children, according to his company’s website.