Tragedy Strikes as Nigerian Bank CEO and Family Perish in California Helicopter Crash
In a devastating incident, the CEO of Access Bank, Herbert Wigwe, along with his wife and son, lost their lives in a helicopter crash that occurred in the Mojave Desert near the California-Nevada border late Friday night. The crash claimed the lives of six individuals, including the former group chairman of the Nigeria Stock Exchange, Abimbola Ogunbanjo, and both pilots.
Access Bank confirmed the tragic news of Herbert Wigwe’s death in an official statement, while World Trade Organization Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala shared the heartbreaking information about the demise of Wigwe’s family and Ogunbanjo.
The ill-fated chartered Airbus EC130 helicopter, operated by California-based charter company Orbic Air, was en route from Palm Springs, California, to Boulder City, Nevada, when it crashed near Interstate 15 in Halloran Springs, California. The crash occurred around 10 p.m., and witnesses reported the helicopter catching fire upon impact. Weather conditions at the time included rain and a wintry mix.
National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) member Michael Graham disclosed that the NTSB is actively investigating the crash. The authorities have not yet released the identities of the victims, but condolences have been pouring in for the Wigwe family and Ogunbanjo.
Nigeria’s President Bola Ahmed Tinubu expressed profound shock, calling the deaths “an overwhelming tragedy that is shocking beyond comprehension.” Governor of Nigeria’s Edo State, Godwin Obaseki, described the loss as “irreparable” and praised Wigwe’s significant contributions to the financial sector.
Access Bank hailed Herbert Wigwe as a “visionary leader” with a legacy of “excellence and compassion.” Wigwe, who assumed the role of Group Managing Director and CEO in 2014, played a pivotal role in elevating Access Bank to international prominence.
As investigators continue their work, a preliminary investigation report is expected in the coming weeks, while the full inquiry may extend up to two years before a final report is published. Authorities have urged anyone with information or media related to the crash to come forward and assist in the ongoing investigation. The financial community mourns the loss of a leader whose impact reached far beyond borders.
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. https://t.co/sPfw6p6fkT
— NBC News (@NBCNews) February 11, 2024