French billionaire and National Assembly member Olivier Dassault has reportedly been killed in a helicopter crash in the northern Calvados town of Toques, according to reports by AFP and other media outlets.
The pilot of the private aircraft also died in the crash, Le Parisien newspaper is reporting. No cause of the crash has yet been identified.
French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday posted a Twitter message paying tribute to the 69-year-old Dassault: “Olivier Dassault loved France. Captain of industry, deputy, locally elected, a reserve commander in the Air Force. Throughout his life, he never ceased to serve our country, to promote its assets. His brutal death is a great loss. Our thoughts are with his family and loved ones.”
Olivier Dassault aimait la France. Capitaine d’industrie, député, élu local, commandant de réserve dans l’armée de l’air : sa vie durant, il ne cessa de servir notre pays, d’en valoriser les atouts. Son décès brutal est une grande perte. Pensées à sa famille et à ses proches.
— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) March 7, 2021
Dassault was the youngest of industrialist Serge Dassault’s four children, who inherited their father’s wealth when he died in May 2018. Olivier Dassault was president of strategy and development at Dassault Groupe, the family-controlled aerospace and software conglomerate.
The Dassaults also own Le Figaro, France’s national newspaper, as well as vineyards and other major assets. Serge Dassault’s father, Marcel Dassault, founded Dassault Aviation and started out making propellers for World War I planes.
Dassault had traveled to Calvados for the weekend, where he owns a holiday home in Deauville, and was set to return to Paris on Sunday by helicopter, Le Parisien reported, citing Senator Olivier Paccaud.
Forbes Magazine estimated Dassault’s net worth at $7.3 billion. Damien Abad, another member of France’s National Assembly, praised Dassault as “an outstanding business leader, a big-hearted member of Parliament, and a great defender of industry.” He added, “Olivier Dassault will be sorely missed. His kindness and his humanism will remain in our memory forever.”
The latest titan of French industry to die in an aircraft crash follows the October 2014 death of Christophe de Margerie, chief executive of oil major Total, whose corporate jet collided with a snowplow in Moscow and burst into flames.
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