Bank CEO and Family Die in California Helicopter Crash

( – Herbert Wigwe, CEO of Nigeria’s largest bank, has died in a helicopter crash in California. Mr. Wigwe, chief executive of Nigeria’s Access Holdings, one of Africa’s largest banking groups, was traveling with his wife and son and three other passengers when the Eurocopter EC130 crashed near the California-Nevada border, killing all on board.

A source close to Wigwe said he was going to Las Vegas to attend the Super Bowl when the accident happened. The Federal Aviation Administration and the US National Transportation Safety Board are conducting a joint investigation into the tragedy. Access Bank’s official Twitter account posted a tweet calling Mr. Wigwe a “visionary leader whose passion and unwavering commitment to excellence transformed Access into a global powerhouse.”

CEO of Access Bank since 2014, Wigwe had a long and distinguished financial career, which started at Guaranty Trust Bank, one of Nigeria’s largest. He moved to Access Bank in 2002 and quickly became a deputy managing director before rising to chief executive just over a decade later. The President of Nigeria, Bold Ahmed Tinbu, paid tribute to the executive and called his death “an overwhelming tragedy that is shocking beyond comprehension.”

The helicopter, believed to have been rented from a Burbank-based company called Orbic Air, departed from Palm Springs, California, for Las Vegas at around 9 pm on the evening of February 9, and witnesses say they could see the flames coming from the aircraft after it hit the ground about an hour and a half later near Interstate 15 just inside the Golden State.

At a subsequent press conference, National Transportation Safety Board spokesman Michael Graham said there was precipitation in the area at the time of the crash and stated that the aircraft descended rapidly and “impacted the terrain in a nose low and right bank angle.”

Debris spread around 100 yards from the site, and Mr. Graham confirmed that all components were accounted for and had been removed for investigation.

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