Remote Alaska Crash Kills One of World's Richest Men

Petr Kellner, 56, of Czech Republic dies while on heli-skiing trip
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 29, 2021 9:40 AM CDT

(Newser) – A crash in Alaska's backcountry during a Saturday heli-skiing trip claimed five lives, including that of the Czech Republic's richest man. The AP reports Petr Kellner, 56, had a 98.93% stake in the global investment company PPF Group and a net worth pegged at $17.5 billion; Forbes had him as the 68th richest person in the world in 2020. Reuters says this of the 56-year-old: "Kellner avoided public attention but was known to be a keen skier. A picture of him snowboarding was published in an annual [PPF] report." Benjamin Larochaix, also of the Czech Republic, was also killed; the two were reportedly regular guests at the Tordrillo Mountain Lodge.

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Heli-ski guides Gregory Harms of Colorado and Sean McMannany of Alaska were also killed when the Airbus AS350 B3 helicopter went down near Knik Glacier northeast of Anchorage, as was pilot Zachary Russel. There was one unidentified survivor, also a guest of the lodge—said to be the longest operating heli-skiing lodge in the state and one whose weekly packages start at $15,000—who remains in serious but stable condition. Kellner is survived by wife Renata and four children, whom PPF referenced in a statement, per the New York Times: "His professional life was known for his incredible work ethic and creativity, but his private life belonged to his family." The cause of the crash is unknown; the National Transportation Safety Board is investigating. (Read more helicopter crash stories.)

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