The Czech Republic’s richest person was among 5 people killed in a heli-skiing crash in Alaska

Knik Glacier, Alaska
The area around Knik Glacier, Alaska
  • Five people died in a heli-skiing accident near Alaska's Knik Glacier on Saturday.
  • Petr Kellner, a finance billionaire and the Czech Republic's richest person, was among the deceased.
  • Only one person survived the helicopter crash. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Petr Kellner, the Czech Republic's richest person, was among the five people who died in a heli-skiing accident in the Alaskan mountains near Knik Glacier on Saturday.

Only one person survived the helicopter crash, and is in a serious condition, Alaska State Troopers said in a press release Sunday afternoon.

Kellner founded investment firm PPF Group, which on Sunday morning confirmed his passing at the age of 56.

Kellner was the Czech Republic's richest person and one of the wealthiest people in Europe, according to estimates from both Forbes and Bloomberg. Forbes puts his wealth at $17.5 billion, while Bloomberg puts it at $15.7 billion.

Kellner is a self-made billionaire who began his career by selling office supplies, before embarking on an investment fund by borrowing $1 million against an office-supplies business, Insider's Debanjali Bose reported. Through the fund, he acquired a controlling stake in an insurer during its privatization.

Petr Kellner, majority shareholder of PPF Group, died in a helicopter crash alongside four others.
Petr Kellner, PPF Group

The Anchorage Daily News reported that the helicopter had been chartered by Tordrillo Mountain Lodge for a heli-ski trip, where helicopters take passengers up remote mountains to ski rather than using ski lifts.

A spokesperson for the luxury lodge told the publication that the helicopter had carried three guests, two ski guides, and a pilot.

Read more: Air taxi service Blade wants to become a household name by entering the game early and perfecting it later

Alaska State Troopers were notified on Saturday night that the helicopter had failed to return and were given a location of possible crash debris, the group's press release said.

A rescue team sent by the troopers found just one survivor, who as of Sunday afternoon was in a serious but stable condition, it said.

The five other occupants - Kellner, Colorado resident Gregory Harms, Czech Republic resident Benjamin Larochaix, Alaska resident Sean McManamy, and Alaska resident Zachary Russell, who was the helicopter's pilot - were all dead upon the rescue team's arrival, troopers said.

"This news is devastating to our staff, the community in which we operate and the families of the deceased," the lodge told The Anchorage Daily News. "In 17 years of operations this is the first time we've had to face an event of this measure."

The lodge, located at Judd Lake, charges $15,000 per person for a week-long stay, which includes both accommodation and heli-skiing trips.

Alaska State Troopers said that the helicopter was an Airbus AS 350-B3 owned by Soloy Helicopters of Wasilla, Alaska.

A representative for the lodge told The New York Times that she did not know what caused the crash. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the incident.

Both Tordrillo Mountain Lodge and Soloy Helicopters did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Comments are closed.