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Last Updated: Sunday, 16 September 2007, 16:28 GMT 17:28 UK
Rally boss in helicopter escape
Dave Richards
Richards was piloting the helicopter
Subaru rally team chief Dave Richards and his wife survived unhurt when their helicopter crash-landed in Essex.

Police said Mr Richards, 55, and his wife, Karen, "walked out of the wreckage" near North Weald Airfield and were treated for shock by paramedics.

Mr Richards helped buy Aston Martin in June and is Prodrive chief executive.

It runs the Subaru World Rally Team that Colin McRae, who died in a separate helicopter crash on Saturday, won his world rally title with in 1995.

Mr Richards had earlier led the tributes to McRae, who was killed along with his five-year-old son, Johnny, and two other people following the accident in Lanarkshire.

'Transmission failure'

Mr Richards and his wife were returning to their home at Banbury, Oxfordshire, after attending the Belgian Grand Prix.

Mill Lane, which is alongside the field where the wreckage lies, has been sealed off awaiting the arrival of Air Accident Investigation Branch staff.

"Something failed on the transmission system," Mr Richards told

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

David and Colin were great friends and it's an amazing coincidence that this has happened
Prodrive spokesman

"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 Prodrive spokesman said: "David and Colin were great friends and it's an amazing coincidence that this has happened.

"Colin was a Subaru driver for many years and during that time he and David got to know each other very well. David is devastated about what has happened to Colin.

"We are just thankful he and Karen are OK."

The spokesman said Mr Richards, who was piloting a Eurocopter EC 135, experienced mechanical problems over Essex while travelling at about 1,500ft.

He said Mr Richards managed to bring the aircraft down in a field and both he and his wife escaped unhurt.

Mr Richards led a consortium which bought a majority share in Warwickshire-based Aston Martin for $439m in June.

David Richards was a friend of Colin McRae

Family tribute to McRae and son
16 Sep 07 |  Glasgow, Lanarkshire and West

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