Nigerian bank CEO and family among 6 killed in helicopter crash in California

Monacair Airbus Helicopters H155 / EC-155 B1 (3A-MTG) on approach to land at Monaco Heliport^ Monaco.
Monacair Airbus Helicopters H155 / EC-155 B1 (3A-MTG) on approach to land at Monaco Heliport^ Monaco.

A helicopter carrying six people, including the CEO of a Nigerian bank, crashed in California’s Mojave Desert, killing all people on board.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the director-general of the World Trade Organization and former finance minister of Nigeria, said in a post on X that Lagos-based Access Bank CEO Herbert Wigwe, his wife and his son were on board. 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, Okonjo-Iweala said. He is the former chair of NGX Group, the Nigerian stock exchange.  Access Bank also confirmed Wigwe’s death, posting on X: “Today, we bid farewell to a visionary leader, @HerbertOWigwe, whose passion and unwavering commitment to excellence transformed Access into a global powerhouse. His legacy of excellence and compassion will continue to inspire us all. Rest in peace, Herbert Wigwe. Your impact will forever be felt.”

The two crew members and four passengers departed from Palm Springs, California, at 8:45 p.m. Friday and were en route to Boulder City, Nevada, about 26 miles outside of Las Vegas, officials said. National Transportation Safety Board member Michael Graham said at a news conference Saturday night that the helicopter “impacted the ground” near Halloran Springs, California, at 10:08 p.m. All six people on board — the pilot-in-command, a safety pilot and four passengers — were killed, Graham said.  The Eurocopter EC-130 helicopter didn’t have a cockpit voice recorder or flight data recorder, nor was it required to, according to Graham.

The California Highway Patrol reported shortly after the crash that a “large band of snow” was moving through Halloran Springs, according to a log of traffic incidents. It said the snow was moderate and mixed with rain. The cause of the crash has not been determined; the NTSB said an investigation was underway.

Editorial credit: IanC66 /