Home » Preliminary reports confirm helicopter carrying Nigerian banker was on fire before crash

Preliminary reports confirm helicopter carrying Nigerian banker was on fire before crash

The preliminary report, obtained from the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), highlighted adverse weather conditions as a significant factor contributing to the incident

by Omokolade Ajayi
Herbert Wigwe

Two weeks after the shocking passing of Nigerian banker Herbert Wigwe, co-founder and CEO of Access Corporation, in a tragic helicopter crash, preliminary reports obtained by the Nigerian Safety Investigation Bureau (NSIB) indicate that the helicopter was on fire before the fatal crash.

In a statement released on Saturday, NSIB’s Director of Public Affairs and Consumer Protection Bimbo Oladeji confirmed the reception of the preliminary report from the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). The report sheds light on the circumstances surrounding the helicopter crash that claimed the lives of Wigwe, his wife Chizoba, his son, and Nigerian lawyer Abimbola Ogunbanjo.

According to Oladeji, the helicopter, identified as an Airbus Helicopter EC130B4, was engulfed in flames before crashing in Halloran Springs due to adverse weather conditions. The incident occurred during a flight from Bob Hope Airport in Burbank, California, to Boulder City Municipal Airport in Nevada via Palm Springs International Airport.

Eyewitnesses reported adverse weather conditions, including rain and a mix of snow, during the helicopter’s journey. Law enforcement and witnesses along Interstate 15 observed a “fireball” in the area, leading to calls to emergency services.

The wreckage was later discovered in the high, mountainous desert near Halloran Springs, California. An analysis of the accident site revealed a scattered debris pattern, indicating a trajectory from an initial impact point. The helicopter’s fuselage was fragmented, and the cockpit and cabin were destroyed.

Despite the challenging conditions, all major helicopter components were identified at the accident site. The investigation utilized various sources, including automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) data, operator personnel reports, and eyewitness accounts, to reconstruct the flight path and sequence of events leading to the accident.

As Access Holdings and the Nigerian financial community mourn the loss of Wigwe, a visionary leader in African banking, NSIB remains committed to collaborating with the NTSB for a comprehensive understanding of the circumstances leading to the accident.

The Director-General of NSIB, Capt. Alex Badeh, expressed gratitude for the cooperation extended by the NTSB and emphasized the ongoing collaboration with relevant authorities to gather additional evidence and information.

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