Widow of Czech Billionaire Who Died in 2021 Helicopter Crash Sues Heliski Operators

Julia Schneemann | | Industry NewsIndustry News
Military helicopter at the crash site. | Credit: Alaska Mountain Rescue Group

Renata Kellnerova, the widow of Petr Kellner, who died in a helicopter crash while heliskiing in Alaska, has asked U.S. courts to investigate the circumstances of her husband’s death.

In March 2021, the helicopter carrying Kellner, Czech snowboarder David Horvath, and French snowboarder Benjamin Larochaix, two mountain guides, and the pilot crashed near the Knik Glacier, AK, killing all on board except Horvath, who survived severely injured. The flight was chartered by the Tordrillo Mountain Lodge for heliskiing. The Tordrillo Mountain Lodge is owned by Triumvirate LLC and is located about sixty miles northwest of Anchorage on Judd Lake. According to the Anchorage Daily News, the crash was one of North America’s deadliest heliskiing aviation accidents.

The lawsuit alleges, similar to a civil lawsuit filed last year by Horvath, that Kellner survived the crash but succumbed to his injuries due to negligence on behalf of the helicopter operator Soloy Helicopters, lodge operator Triumvirate LLC, and ski guide operators Third Edge Alaska LLC. According to Horvath’s attorney, Kellner and Harms survived the crash but died before rescuers arrived. Harms’ partner also sued the operators of the heliskiing trip. Greg Harms had been a heli guide at Tordrillo Mountain Lodge for 15 years.

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Greg Harms. | Credit: Tordrillo Mountain Lodge

Horvath was not rescued for almost six hours, causing him to lose all fingers on his left hand and several on his right hand to frostbite. He was trapped in the wreckage with broken ribs and dislocated knees and was forced to listen to Kellner and Harms succumb to their injuries. According to statements from Horvath relayed via his lawyers, Kellner was alive for two hours or more, walking around outside, looking for a satellite phone and speaking to Horvath in Czech, saying, “Don’t worry, we will not die on this mountain today. They have to come and get us within an hour.”

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The scene of the helicopter crash near Anchorage, AK. | Credit: Alaska Mountain Rescue Group

Alaska State Troopers were notified of an overdue helicopter at 10:00 p.m. when a rescue helicopter was dispatched. The helicopter crashed around 6:30 p.m., but authorities said they didn’t even know it had crashed for about two hours. It would take almost six hours for rescuers to arrive in the end. A final crash report from the National Transportation Safety Board is expected by mid-summer this year.

Petr Kellner was the wealthiest man in Czechia, and his death made his widow the richest person in the country. He cofounded PPF Group, a Czech investment company with stakes in more than two dozen companies worldwide. According to Anchorage Daily News, his widow believes that his injuries would have been survivable if life-saving medical care had been administered promptly.

Petr Kellner, 56. | Credit: PPF

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