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Chinese buyer of French vineyard feared dead in helicopter crash

By Bharati Naik and Laura Smith-Spark, CNN
updated 11:11 AM EST, Sat December 21, 2013
Lam Kok and his wife pose for a photograph Friday in front of the Chateau de La Riviere, in La Riviere.
Lam Kok and his wife pose for a photograph Friday in front of the Chateau de La Riviere, in La Riviere.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Chinese investor Lam Kok is feared dead in a helicopter crash in southwest France
  • His son's body has been recovered, but police continue to search for Kok and two others
  • The vineyard's previous owner, who'd sold the estate to Kok on Thursday, was also aboard
  • Kok wanted to tour the vineyard by helicopter, its marketing manager says

(CNN) -- A Chinese investor who had just bought a French vineyard is feared dead in a helicopter crash that killed his son and is thought also to have claimed the lives of an aide and the vineyard's previous owner.

Lam Kok had completed the purchase of Chateau de La Riviere in the Aquitaine region of southwest France on Thursday, the vineyard's marketing manager, Thierry Disclyn, told CNN.

On Friday, Kok introduced himself to all the employees, and at about 5 p.m. local time decided to tour the estate by helicopter, Disclyn said.

The helicopter, which was also carrying the vineyard's previous owner, James Gregoire, Kok's 11-year-old son Charles, and a representative of Lam Kok, Peng Wang, crashed into the Dordogne River.

Officials look over a piece of wreckage from the helicopter crash.
Officials look over a piece of wreckage from the helicopter crash.

Police have recovered the body of Charles Kok but are still searching for the other bodies, Disclyn said.

According to the local Sud Ouest newspaper, about 30 police officers and a team of divers are engaged in the search, which resumed at 8 a.m. local time.

Lam Kok is the head of the Brilliant group, which specializes in the luxury hotel market, Sud Ouest said.

Kok wanted to turn the spectacular chateau building into a high-end resort and spa catering to wine enthusiasts, the newspaper said.

The 60-hectare Chateau de La Riviere estate, in Fronsac, east of Bordeaux, had belonged to James Gregoire since 2003. It was the largest of three vineyards owned by the Gregoire family in the region.

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