The father of late footballer Emiliano Sala has died of a heart attack three months after his son was killed in a plane crash.
Horacio Sala passed away in his bed at home in the town of Progreso, Argentina yesterday morning. He was 58.
His death comes three months after his 28-year-old son Emiliano was killed when a plane taking him to Cardiff crashed into the English Channel.
Sala’s father Horacio has been grief-stricken ever since. Local politician Julio Muller said: ‘He could never get over Emi’s death.’
Mr Sala found out through media reports that his son was missing after his plane disappeared. The footballer’s death was confirmed two days later.
Speaking in early February, former truck driver Mr Sala told Argentine TV: ‘I cannot believe it. This is a dream. A bad dream. I am desperate.’
He described his son as ‘small town humble boy’, adding: ‘He was a lad who always fought for what he had.’
Mr Sala’s death was yesterday confirmed by local politician Julio Muller, who said paramedics had rushed to his home but were unable to save him.
Mr Muller told local radio station La Red: ‘2019 doesn’t let up in shocking us with news in this town.
‘At 5’o’clock in the morning, a lady, his partner, rang me and she was very upset. The doctors were there but when I arrived at their home, he had already died.’
Mr Sala was living with his partner Carina Taffarel at the time of his death, which comes as a fresh blow for Emiliano’s still-grieving brother Dario and sister Romina.
Progreso, where Mr Sala died, is a small town of around 3,000 people situated 250 miles north west of Argentina’s capital Buenos Aires.
A friend of Mr Sala, Daniel Ribero told Argentina’s La Nacion newspaper: ‘I saw with him during the week, I bumped into him in the street and we spent half an hour talking about the soybean harvest. He seemed better, more willing to talk.’
Mr Sala was pictured with Cardiff manager Neil Warnock at the player’s funeral. A number of officials from the Premier League team travelled to South America after Sala’s plane crash.
Striker Emiliano was flying to Cardiff in January following his transfer from French side Nantes when the Piper Malibu plane piloted by David Ibbotson went down into the English Channel. Mr Ibbotson was also killed in the crash.
The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) found in its preliminary report in February that pilot Mr Ibbotson was not licensed to fly fee-paying passengers and the plane itself was not registered to undertake commercial flights.
Records have since shown that Mr Ibbotson was also not licensed to fly at night.
A report released in February found Mr Ibbotson descended sharply four times telling air traffic control he was struggling with visibility.
Exactly 24 seconds before the fatal crash he plunged from 4,000ft to 1,600ft then desperately tried and failed to ‘climb rapidly’ before hitting the water.
The AAIB said it needs to do more work to find the cause of the crash but have already found that the plane failed to fly on a straight path between France and Wales,
After Emiliano was confirmed to have died in the crash, his sister Romina posted a picture of him on Instagram, with the poignant message: ‘Your soul in my soul, it will shine forever, illuminating my existence. I love you, Tito.’
The family later released a statement thanking the public for their support at what they described as ‘the most painful time of our lives’.
The statement continued: ‘Seeing the whole world mobilized to support us in our research has been an infinitely precious help. Thanks to you, we are now able to mourn our son, our brother.
‘On this Friday morning, our thoughts go to David Ibbotson and his family, hoping that the authorities will do their best to find him.’
Cardiff and Nantes are currently locked in a bitter dispute over Sala’s £15million fee, with the French side demanding payment and the Premier League team claiming the deal was not completed.