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Human error caused Bordeaux copter crash

A human error has been cited by French justice officials as the cause of the helicopter crash in Bordeaux that killed Chinese billionaire Lam Kok and his son.

Lam Kok (second right) and James Gregoire pose outside Château de la Riviere in Fronsac following its sale for a reported €30m to Kok on 19 December. A day later, both were killed in a helicopter crash. Credit: Getty Images/AFP

As reported by the South China Morning Post, Christophe Auger, prosecutor of Libourne, concluded that a pilot error had caused the crash, which took place in December 2013 as Kok and his son were flown over Château de la Riviere.

Auger added that the pilot’s alcohol consumption had been “a contributing but not principal factor” in the accident, which saw the helicopter crash into the Dordogne river.

“It was caused by human error by the pilot, and the principal reason for the accident was flying at too low an altitude,” Auger told Sud Ouest.

The doomed flight took off late on a winter afternoon when visibility was limited. No technical or maintenance problems with the helicopter were uncovered during the enquiry.

Kok, a 46 year-old tea magnate and head of the Hong Kong-based Brilliant Group, his 12 year old son Kok Shun-yu, interpreter Wang Peng and former owner of Château de la Riviere James Gregoire were all killed in the crash on 20 December.

The group had taken to the skies to celebrate Kok’s purchase of the 65-hectare château for €30 million. Kok’s wife chose not to fly due to her fear of helicopters.

Kok Shun-yu’s body was found in the helicopter wreckage soon after the accident, while the other victims’ bodies were found down the river weeks later.

Kok’s Brilliant Group deals in upmarket teas, tourism, property development, hotels and resorts.

This is not the first tragedy to befall Château de la Riviere – in 2002, owner Jean Leprince was killed in an air accident.

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