Kobe Bryant death: Other sporting stars who died in air crashes
NBA legend Kobe Bryant died on Sunday when a helicopter crashed and burst into flames in suburban Los Angeles. Here is a look at six other air tragedies which claimed the lives of sporting heroes:
1958: Manchester United
The plane carrying members of Manchester United’s ‘Busby Babes’ crashed in Germany as it returned from a European Cup match in Belgrade. Eight players died following the incident as well as three staff members. Matty Busby’s side went on to win the trophy in 1968 and a passage under United’s Old Trafford stadium was named the ‘Munich Tunnel’ on the 50th anniversary of the accident.
1961: US Figure Skating
All 18 athletes in the US figure skating team lost their lives on their way to Prague for the World Championships as their aircraft crashed on approach to an airport in Brussels. The competition was cancelled and the whole squad and their coaches were inducted into the US Skating Hall of Fame in January 2011.
1972: Old Christians Rugby Club
The Uruguayan outfit lost 12 team members when the plane set for Santiago in Chile crashed in a remote part of the Andes mountain range. After they ran out of food on the glacier, survivors resorted to eating the flesh from the dead bodies and they were found 71 days after the crash. Books, films and documentaries have been made about the accident and hikers still visit the site at 3,570 metres to pay tribute.
A charter flight from Bolivia to Colombia carrying 77 people claimed the lives of 19 members of the Brazilian side’s squad travelling to the first leg of the Copa Sudamericana final. The title was awarded to the club following a request from their opponents Atletico Nacional. Spanish club Barcelona organised a friendly against Chapecoense less than a year later to raise funds as one of the survivors Alan Ruschel played his first match since the incident.
2018: Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha
Leicester City owner Vichai was killed as the helicopter carrying him and four other people crashed outside the club’s King Power stadium hours after a league game. Thousands of Foxes supporters took part in a walk in remembrance of the victims before their next match and the Thai billionaire’s son Aiyawatt took over control of the English side.
2019: Emiliano Sala
The Argentinian striker was travelling by plane from Nantes to Wales to finalise a move to then Premier League club Cardiff City when his aircraft crashed in the English Channel. There are still unresolved issues surrounding the player’s death, such as the payment of the 17 million euros ($18.85 million) fee agreed for his transfer.