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Millionaire racehorse owner and top trainer among four injured in helicopter crash

The helicopter crashed near the village of Llanelidan, Ruthin, North Wales. (Wales News Service)
The helicopter crashed near the village of Llanelidan, Ruthin, North Wales. (Wales News Service)

A racehorse owner and trainer were among four people taken to hospital after their helicopter crashed in woodland in North Wales.

Owner Dai Walters, 76, and trainer Sam Thomas, 38, were inside the helicopter when it plummeted near the village of Llanelidan, Ruthin, in bad weather on Tuesday afternoon.

Police said that all four people on board escaped the crash without "life-threatening or life-changing injuries".

Walters, a self-made businessman who was estimated to have a £240m fortune in 2020, is believed to have suffered the most serious injuries and is still in hospital.

Thomas, who is based in Cardiff, and won the Welsh Grand National, suffered minor injuries and has been allowed to return home along with other passengers.

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All four people on board managed to escape the crash without
All four people on board managed to escape the crash without "life-threatening or life-changing injuries". (Wales News Service)

Heavy wind and rain had persisted throughout the day in Wales but aviation officials are still probing the cause of the accident.

Businessman Huw Howatson described how he had to run for cover as he watched the helicopter come down near his home.

He said: "I watched it happen and I was filming the helicopter. I could see it was in trouble and it hit some trees and I had to get out the way

"A piece of propeller came away. We had to scarper because there was lots of debris, it was just flying everywhere - it was like a movie."

According to the Walters Group website, Dai Walters started life came from "humble beginnings" and started work as an apprentice fitter in a coal mine.

He has since built up what the company claims to be the largest independently owned civil engineering, plant and development companies in the UK.

Winning owner Dai Walters with his trophy after Oscar Whiskey's victory in the William Hill Welsh Champion Hurdle during the William Hill Welsh Champion Hurdle Day at Ffos Las Racecourse.
Dai Walters pictured at his Ffos Las Racecourse. in 2011. (PA)

Thomas enjoyed huge success in his riding days, most famously aboard Denman in the blue riband at Cheltenham in 2008. He also won the Betfair Chase the following year with Kauto Star.

The British Horseracing Authority wished everyone involved in the crash a speedy recovery.

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Police, firefighters, ambulance officials and a coastguard helicopter all attended the scene at around 5:36pm.

Inspector David Cust from North Wales Police added: "Officers attended alongside colleagues from Welsh Ambulance and North Wales Fire & Rescue as part of a joint emergency response.

"All the occupants have been accounted for, with four people having been taken to hospitals across the area.

"None of the injuries are thought to be life-threatening or life-changing at this time. Whilst a multiple agency response remains at the scene, the ongoing investigation into the cause will be dealt with by the Civil Aviation Authority."

It is not yet clear who owned the helicopter or the route it had been taking.