The United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and National Transportation Safety Board have begun an investigation into the Friday night chopper crash near the California-Nevada border.
Recall that the crash which occurred in the Mojave Desert around 10 pm. local time, near Nipton, California, involved a Eurocopter EC 130.
Reacting, the FAA, in a Saturday statement noted that six people were on board but did not disclose information regarding casualties.
“The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate. The NTSB will be in charge of the investigation and will provide any updates,” the statement read partly.
Sources had confirmed that Herbert Wigwe, the Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Access Holding, was among the casualties in the helicopter crash.
However, the US agency did not disclose whether Wigwe was among the number of casualties or not.
Rick Breitenfeldt, FAA’s Public Affairs Specialist, Office of Communications, said, “Contact local authorities for the names and medical conditions of the people on board.”
Wigwe, according to a source, had traveled for the Super Bowl event in Las Vegas scheduled for Sunday.
“A whole family was wiped out,” the source told The Punch.
Kingsley Nwokoma, President of the Association of Foreign Airlines and Representatives in Nigeria, also confirmed that he was aware of the information regarding Wigwe’s demise.
“This is a big loss. He didn’t die alone, both his wife and son were involved. It’s quite unfortunate that he had to die this way,” he said.
Meanwhile, Shareholders in the Nigeria Capital Market have described the death of Wigwe and former group chairman of Nigerian Exchange Group Plc (NGX Group), Abimbola Ogunbanjo as a great loss to the capital markets and the country at large.
Adebayo Adeleke, Group Managing Director, Lancelot Ventures Limited and Former General Secretary, Independent Shareholders Association of Nigeria, ISAN, who described their death as tragic, said that they have left their footprints in the sand of times.
He said: “It’s rather tragic that it appears to be a season of death around the business community in general and Access Bank in particular.
“Ogunbanjo, former Chairman of NGX and serving chairman of Beta Glass Plc, just buried his father last month. Access Bank just lost both its Board Chairman and the PA to the GMD recently. Now, Herbert Wigwe, wife and two children have also gone.
“The entire shareholder community and the capital market are still in shock. We are deeply saddened by this development.”
“Herbert Wigwe was so much loved by shareholders for raising the bars of Access Bank higher after the exit of his soul-mate, Aig-Imoukhuede.
“He was my friend. We were born the same time, the same year and in the same town,” he added.
Moses Igbrude, National Coordinator, Independent Shareholders Association of Nigeria, ISAN, said: “It is a great loss to the banking sector and Nigeria as well as shareholders community. Wigwe was a great guy, a merger specialist and expert who alongside his colleague Aig Aigboje-Imoukhuede brought a small Access Bank to mega a bank; local bank to international bank. It is a great loss, I sincerely wish his soul and others a profound peace.”
Director-General of the World Trade Center, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala expressed extreme sadness via X saying, “My deepest sympathies and condolences to the Wigwe family, the Ogunbanjo family, Access Bank Group employees and Management @myaccessbank and my younger Brother Herbert’s partner Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede. May the souls of the departed rest in perfect peace.”
Minister of Aviation, Festus Keyamo, said he is shocked to learn Wigwe’s wife, son and other friends were involved in this tragedy.
His words, “The reported tragic loss of my friend, brother and not-far-away neighbour in Lagos, Herbert Wigwe, the co-founder of Access Bank, the CEO of Access Holdings and the founder of Wigwe University, is very devastating. He was in my office earlier this week (where we took the pictures below) and actually left my office to fly out of the country and never came back. I am also shocked to learn his wife, son and other friends were involved in this tragedy.
“We were on the verge of announcing something big for the aviation sector, the reason he actually came to the office with his entire team, both from Access and Wigwe University. This is surreal and I am lost for words.
“May Almighty God comfort his aged parents and sibling (who were also my neighbours in Lagos for many years as a very young lawyer in Anthony Village), his immediate family members, his staff, friends across Nigeria and dependents.”