Anchorage (US): A contracted helicopter carrying guides and guests from a lodge on a heli-skiing trip in Alaska’s backcountry crashed Saturday. In the chopper crash the pilot and four others were killed. Among those killed was the Czech Republic’s richest man. The only other person onboard was in serious condition but stable Sunday at an Anchorage hospital, Alaska State Troopers said.
The five killed in the Saturday accident were identified as Petr Kellner, 56, and Benjamin Larochaix, 50, both 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, troopers said Sunday. The five passengers included three guests and two guides from ‘Tordrillo Mountain Lodge’, said company spokesperson Mary Ann Pruitt.
Petr Kellner was a businessman with a net worth over $17 billion, according to the Forbes 2020 list of the world’s richest people. Kellner owned a 98.93 per cent 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 $52 billion (44 billion euros). PPF Group confirmed Kellner’s death.
Kellner and Larochaix ‘were loyal and frequent’ guests at the lodge, Pruitt said in an email to this agency.
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.
The Eurocopter AS50 crashed under unknown circumstances about 50 miles (80 km) east of Anchorage at 6.35pm Saturday, the Federal Aviation Administration said Sunday. Authorities said the crash site was near Knik Glacier.
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’.