Monday, February 12, 2024

Nigerian bank CEO, family among the 6 killed in California helicopter crash

The CEO of one of Nigeria's largest banks was among the six people killed when the helicopter they were on crashed Friday night in California, a World Trade Organization official said.

The chartered helicopter departed Palm Springs at 8:45 p.m. en route to Boulder City, Nevada, but "impacted the ground" near Halloran Springs, California, at 10:08 p.m., National Transportation Safety Board member Michael Graham said at a news conference Saturday night.

All six people on board — the pilot-in-command, a safety pilot and four passengers — were killed, Graham said.

Authorities have not publicly identified the victims.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the director general of the World Trade Organization, said in a post on X that Herbert Wigwe, the group CEO of the Lagos-based Access Bank, was on board the helicopter with his wife and son. She did not include the names of Wigwe’s wife and son.

A fourth passenger, Bimbo Ogunbanjo, also known as Abimbola Ogunbanjo, was among the dead, she said. He is the former chair of NGX Group, the Nigerian stock exchange.

Graham said the aircraft, an Airbus Helicopters H130, was operated and chartered by Orbic Air. The California-based company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Multiple motorists on nearby Interstate 15, which runs from near the U.S.-Mexico border to Las Vegas en route to Canada, reported seeing either the crash or its resulting fire Friday night, he said.

"There was fire when the aircraft did contact the terrain," Graham said, citing witness accounts.

Halloran Springs, the name for a natural springs site in the Mojave Desert and its surrounding community, is about 80 miles south of Las Vegas, where the Super Bowl between the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs is set to be held Sunday.

Boulder Springs is about 25 miles outside Las Vegas.


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