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Petr Kellner

Petr Kellner: Billionaire and Czech Republic’s richest man is among 5 Killed in helicopter crash

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Petr Kellner, the wealthiest person in the Czech Republic according to the Forbes list of billionaires, was part of the excursion, according to those who chartered the flight.

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

The lodge, which offers weekly packages of $15,000 per person for shared accommodations and heli-skiing charters, expressed its sorrow about the crash in a statement on Sunday night.

“This news is devastating to our staff, the community in which we operate, and the families of the deceased,” the lodge said. “In 17 years of operations, this is the first time we’ve had to face an event of this measure.”

A representative for the lodge, which is in Judd Lake, Alaska, said she did not know what caused the crash. 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 it had chartered the flight.

According to the lodge, Mr. Kellner was a frequent guest and friend of the resort. His investment company, PPF Group, also confirmed the death in a statement released Monday, saying that the crash was under investigation.

“His professional life was known for his incredible work ethic and creativity, but his private life belonged to his family,” the company said of Mr. Kellner, adding that the funeral would be held with only close family members.

Mr. Kellner 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 broadcast network, Central European Media Enterprises, for $1.1 billion, raising concerns in the Czech Republic that the network might lose independence. But in a statement released at the time, Mr. Kellner said the acquisition was driven by “a sense of responsibility” and vowed that the network would retain its objectivity.

PPF Group has also donated millions of respirators and masks and thousands of coronavirus testing kits and swabs to help the Czech Republic in the pandemic, the Czech news media reported.

He was married with four children, according to his company’s website.

According to the lodge, Mr. Harms, 52, was a pioneering guide in the Alaskan heli-skiing community and operated his own excursion business, Third Edge Heli. Mr. McMannany, 38, had been a guide for more than 10 years and was an avalanche instructor, the lodge said.

Details about Mr. Larochaix, 50, and Mr. Russel, 33, the pilot, were not immediately available.

About Charles Igbinidu

Charles Igbinidu is a Public Relations practitioner in Lagos, Nigeria

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