Commemoration event for those involved in response to LCFC helicopter crash
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From those running towards the helicopter in the immediate aftermath of the crash to all those who helped the club – and the city – rebuild, all have been recognised at an afternoon commemoration event held at Leicester City Football Club.
A helicopter carrying five people crashed moments after taking off from the King Power Stadium in the hours after the match on Saturday 27 October last year.
All five people died despite the heroic efforts of emergency services and those in the area in an attempt to save those inside – pilot Eric Shaffer and passengers Izabela Lechowicz, Kaveporn Punpare, Nursara Suknamai and the Leicester City Chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha.
Yesterday (Thursday 22 August) more than 100 people from agencies across the region have been recognised for their efforts.
The four police officers who ran towards the crash site, along with seven from LCFC and an EMAS doctor were praised for their bravery on the evening. All risked their lives to try and save those trapped inside the helicopter, running towards the danger and not thinking about their own safety.
Others were recognised for their outstanding work and significant contribution to the response in their specialist areas – from family liaison, supporting the traffic operation, to street pastors and the Red Cross and to the clean-up of the area. Many people came in over the weekend, giving up their free time to support the operation.
Chief Constable Simon Cole said: “This event was to recognise the extraordinary amount of work, from an extraordinary amount of people, that was part of the response to this tragic incident which resulted in five people losing their lives.
“The helicopter crashing was the start of a multi-agency response, with people in hundreds of different roles coming out in force to do everything that needed to be done, including volunteers from the Red Cross and local agencies.
“From making sure the people in the area of the crash were safe and that everyone was accounted for, to the very difficult task of undertaking the family liaison with families who’d lost loved ones, to helping the city come to terms with what had happened, everyone from every agency had a role to play.
“Of course, the club weren’t just dealing with a major incident happening on their site. Grief made this a very difficult incident to deal with – the club, the city and the wider footballing community were all grieving, as were those responding.
“Ensuring that people could grieve, pay tribute at the ground and show their sense of loss through the 5000 to 1 march, as well as hosting a Royal Visit to the scene, all provided planning challenges that needed a compassionate response.
“This commemorative event is to remember those who lost their lives and to say to everyone who played a part – thank you.”
Leicester City Chief Executive Susan Whelan said: “The immediate and sustained support of the region’s emergency services, agencies and stakeholders was of immeasurable value to the Football Club during the darkest hour in our history. Thursday’s event was an opportunity for individual roles in that response to be deservedly recognised and I extend my heartfelt thanks and congratulations to everyone involved.
“The Club and the city will be healing for some time following the events of last October, but we do so with pride at the contribution the people of Leicester made with an extraordinary response.”
Peter Ripley, Associate Director of Operations Service Delivery for the East Midlands Ambulance Service, said: “It is important to remember and recognise the brave actions of people from the community and every emergency service on that night in October as they did the best they could under the terrible circumstances.
“They went above and beyond to do their jobs not only on that night but the days following.”
Rick Taylor, Chief Fire and Rescue Officer, said: “The helicopter crash was an incredibly tragic incident in which five people sadly lost their lives.
“I am pleased we have been able to come together with our partners in recognition of the professionalism and bravery of all first responders who had to deal with the tragic scenes of that very challenging evening.
“I wanted to express my thanks to our fire and rescue crews and our partners for their efforts.
“While we come together today to recognise the fantastic work our services undertook during this incident, our thoughts still remain with all those effected.”