Renata Kellnerova Asks US Court To Investigate Her Husband’s Fatal Helicopter Crash
The helicopter carrying five including Kellner crashed near the Knik Glacier in Alaska in March 2021. Credit: Image by wirestock on Freepik.
Prague/Anchorage, USA, April 3 (CTK) – Czech businesswoman Renata Kellnerova and her family have asked a court in Alaska to investigate the 2021 helicopter crash which killed her husband, billionaire Petr Kellner, and four other people.
Kellnerova’s PPF investment group informed CTK of the news in a press release yesterday, confirming reports from the Alaskan news blogger Craig Medred.
The helicopter carrying two mountain guides, one pilot, and two passengers, including Kellner, crashed near the Knik Glacier in the mountains of Alaska shortly after manoeuvring over a ridge in March 2021. The machine subsequently slipped around 150 metres down a slope.
An earlier civil lawsuit, reported by the Anchorage Daily News last April, asserts that Kellner apparently survived the helicopter crash, but died waiting for rescuers, who took too long to arrive due to a failure of the company operating the machine.
With this lawsuit, which she filed with the Alaskan court on 24 March, Kellnerova wants to get an investigation opened into possible misconduct by the company that operated the helicopter, as well as possible failures by other entities involved in the rescue operation, PPF said in its statement.
“According to the available testimonies, rescue units were called to the scene of the crash only a few hours later, and it is therefore obvious that some people must have made mistakes,” PPF spokesman Leos Rousek said in a statement sent to CTK .
Rousek said Kellner’s family had originally intended to postpone legal action until the US authorities issued their final report on the circumstances of the tragedy. “However, the investigation is not complete even after more than two years. As the two-year statute of limitations for filing civil lawsuits under the US law expired on 27 March 2023, the family had no other choice but to act fast,” the statement said.
Along with Kellner, Czech snowboarding coach Benjamin Larochaix, pilot Zachary Russell and two mountain guides, Gregory Harms and Sean McManamy, lost their lives in the March 2021 crash. Only Czech David Horvath survived it. Rescuers pulled him from the helicopter wreckage only about six hours after the accident, in temperatures far below zero.
Last year, Horvath sued Soloy Helicopters, the company operating the helicopter, claiming the company had reacted too late to the crash.
Soloy Helicopters was also the target of a lawsuit filed on behalf of the mountain guide Harms’ partner and child. The lawsuit claimed that the helicopter pilot was not sufficiently experienced for such flights, and that the operating company did not properly supervise the helicopter and warned of its disappearance too late. Harms also remained alive for some time after the crash, according to the lawsuit.
Kellner, the richest Czech at the time of his death, was the founder and majority shareholder of the PPF finance and investment group, and one of the most influential figures in the Czech Republic. According to the Forbes magazine 2021 ranking, he was the 110th richest person in the world, with a fortune of $17.5 billion the year before his death.
His widow Kellnerova and her family are now ranked 102nd on Forbes magazine’s list, with a fortune of $16.8 billion.