Chinese billionaire Lam Kok purchased a French vineyard, and boarded a helicopter with three others, including his son, the former owner who was flying the helicopter, and a translator, to take an aerial tour of the 65-hectare (160-acre) vineyards and surrounding grounds. Lam Kok’s and James Gregoire’s wives had declined to fly.
Twenty minutes after the flight took off, the helicopter went missing.
The helicopter, flown by James Gregoire, former owner of the vineyard, was missing but a witness came forward and told a mounted policeman that the helicopter had been seen falling into the Dordogne river, and people had been seen struggling in the water.
Emergency helicopters, divers and a hundred foot officers converged on the scene, and were deployed to search. After dark, a helicopter with a searchlight joined the searchers.
Lam Kok, new owner of the vineyard Château de la Riviere was head of the Hong Kong-based Brilliant group which plans to develop a tea and wine tasting center and hotel in Bordeaux.
One of the bodies was recovered around midnight. Rumors are that the body is of Lam Kok’s twelve year old son. The search was halted overnight, but resumed on the morning of the twenty-first. The search has been hampered by strong currents in the river.
Ironically, John Leprince, a former owner of the vineyard, died in a plane crash in 2002, not far from the crash site in the Dordogne. Combined with this crash, this means the last three owners of the vineyard were lost in aviation accidents.