Prodrive chief Richards survives helicopter crash

LONDON (Reuters) - Rally supremo David Richards and his wife escaped serious injury on Sunday when the helicopter in which they were flying crashed north of London, police said.

Earlier, Richards had led tributes for former world champion Colin McRae after the Scot, his five-year-old son Johnny, another child and a friend of McRae’s were killed on Saturday when their helicopter crashed near his Lanarkshire home.

Essex police said 55-year-old Richards, chief executive of Prodrive who run Subaru’s World Rally team, and his wife “walked out of the wreckage” when their helicopter crashed near North Weald airfield after returning from the Belgian Grand Prix.

Prodrive are due to enter Formula One next year as the sport’s 12th team.

“Something failed on the transmission system,” Richards, who was in charge of the Subaru team when McRae became the first British world rally champion in 1995, was quoted as saying on

“Because of what happened with Colin yesterday, we didn’t want to stay at Spa, we wanted to come back home early.

“We were nearing Stansted airport when we heard this bang at the back of the aircraft. I was talking to the control at Stansted at the time, so I immediately gave them a May Day call, and the rescue crew came within minutes.

“Then, everything failed but I managed to bring it down to the ground, and it fell on its side.”

A spokesman for Subaru said Richards, a former Benetton and BAR Formula One team boss, was badly shaken but unhurt. Police said he and his wife were treated for shock by paramedics at the scene.

Strathclyde Police have said a formal post-mortem is still to be conducted but said in a statement they believed McRae and his son were among the dead in Saturday’s crash.