Richest man in Czech Republic was on helicopter that went down on Knik Glacier


Billionaire Petr Kellner, who is the wealthiest person in the Czech Republic, was on the helicopter chartered for a heliskiing excursion that crashed near the Knik Glacier, according to the New York Times.

Kellner, 56, Benjamin Larochaix, also of the Czech Republic, and two of Tordrillo Mountain Lodge guides — Gregory Harms and Sean McMannany — all died, along with the helicopter pilot Zach Russel.

The lone survivor is in serious but stable condition, according to the Alaska State Troopers.

The helicopter was reported overdue at 10 pm on Saturday. Debris could be seen near the Knik Glacier and the airspace around the crash site was put under a temporary flight restriction on Sunday so rescuers and recovery could take place.

Greg Harms was an heli-skiing pioneer, who guided trips all over the world. He lived in Colorado but was extremely experienced in Alaska. Sean McMannany was a local guide from Girdwood who has heliski guide for 10 years and who was an avalanche instructor and experienced Denali mountain guide.

Kellner and Larochaix were longtime frequent guests of the lodge, whose owners considered them friends.

The official statement from Tordrillo Mountain Lodge reads, “On the afternoon of Saturday, March 27th, a helicopter crash occurred during operations. On the aircraft were Tordrillo Mountain Lodge guides, guests and a pilot from Soloy Helicopters. It is with deepest sorrow we report that only one member of the group of 6 survived the accident. This news is devastating to our staff, the community in which we operate and the families of the deceased. In 17 years of operations this is the first time we’ve had to face an event of this measure. Please be mindful that information at this time is limited and more information will be provided once the authorities in Alaska return to the accident site and all the families are properly notified. Our deepest condolences go out to the families and friends of those who died in this tragic event.” 

The crash took place in in transport, and Soloy helicopters of Wasilla was the operator.


  1. First let me say this is so tragic! Experiencing Alaska should never end in death, but often it does. I am taken aback by the headlines appearing all over about this horrible tragedy and it says “Richest man in Czech” dies “. I can’t help but think this leads readers to think that his life mattered more than the others .. because he was rich? We all die.. rich, poor whatever. That is not the legacy that counts, in my opinion. I hope he was kind and loving , and from what I read he loved Alaska. That counts in my book, and the others onboard that trip , my deepest sorrow to your families and friends.

  2. Praying for all involved and affected. It is my understanding that Kellner was a very hard working conservative who obtained his wealth via his work ethic, creativity, and a bachelors in economics. He was philanthropic and devoted to his family. He had recently purchased a large news network with desire to ‘restore equilibrium’ to news reporting. Saturday was a bluebird day with optimum flying conditions. Soloy is a very skilled helicopter company employing top notch experienced pilots. Things happen but one does wonder. Kellner was a very wealthy conservative with the power and money to further some conservative causes on a large scale. I am curious what the accident investigation will reveal and what the survivor may be able to share. Aside from that perhaps a bit out there speculation, the losses for all the families are heart wrenching.

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