PALM SPRINGS, CA – A tragic helicopter crash on Friday night claimed the lives of six people, including the CEO of one of Nigeria’s largest banks, according to an official statement. The helicopter was en route from Palm Springs, California, to Boulder City, Nevada, when it crashed near Halloran Springs, California, around 10:08 p.m., as reported by National Transportation Safety Board member Michael Graham.
The ill-fated flight carried two pilots and four passengers, all of whom perished in the crash. While the authorities have yet to release the identities of the victims, the director general of the World Trade Organization, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, revealed that Herbert Wigwe, the group CEO of Lagos-based Access Bank, was aboard the helicopter with his wife and son. Another passenger, Bimbo Ogunbanjo, a former chair of NGX Group, the Nigerian stock exchange, was also among the deceased.
The Airbus Helicopters H130, operated and chartered by Orbic Air, crashed under unknown circumstances, sparking a fire upon impact. Witnesses on the nearby Interstate 15 reported seeing the crash or the ensuing fire. The weather at the time of the crash featured rain and a wintry mix, with temperatures in the high 20s and wind gusts reaching 29 mph.
Wigwe’s death has sent shockwaves through Nigeria and Africa’s banking industry. He was known for his ambitious vision for Access Holdings, Access Bank’s parent company, and his significant contributions to banking, finance, art, education, and philanthropy.
The cause of the crash remains under investigation by the NTSB.