Six people are dead after a helicopter crashed in California on Friday, killing the CEO of a Nigerian bank, his family and two pilots.
The aircraft, an Airbus EC130, was making its way from Palm Springs, California to Boulder City, Nevada, just outside of Las Vegas, where the Super Bowl is being held on Sunday. It crashed near Baker, California around 10pm, the San Bernadino County Sheriff’s Department said.
Witnesses said they could see fire coming from the aircraft after it made contact with the desert terrain, close to Interstate 15 in Halloran Springs, California.
The President of Nigeria, Bold Ahmed Tinbu, confirmed the deaths of Herbert Wigwe, the CEO of Access Holdings, his wife, Chizoba Wigwe and their son Chizi Wigwe.
Abimbola Ogunbanjo, the former group chairman of the Nigerian Exchange Group Plc, was also on board the helicopter.
“This passing is an overwhelming tragedy that is shocking beyond comprehension,” the president said. “I pray for the peaceful repose of the departed.”
Michael Graham, a board member of the National Transportation Safety Board, said the aircraft had departed California around 8.45pm and that there were no survivors of the incident. The helicopter used belongs to Burbank-based tour company called Orbic Air.
It’s believed that the helicopter was rented from the company.
During a Saturday news conference, Mr Graham said that the weather at the time of the accident suggested rain and a “wintery mix”. He added that officials would be on scene over the weekend to gather perishable evidence.
A preliminary report into the accident would be available in a couple of weeks, while a full investigation could take up to two years. Officials will examine the aircraft’s level of airworthiness, including maintenance, operations, meteorology and air traffic control.
“I’d like to express our deepest sympathies to the families and loved ones of those who lost their lives in this terrible tragedy,” Mr Graham said.
The Federal Aviation Administration is also investigating the incident.
According to CNN, more than 1,000 private jets are expected to fly into the Las Vegas area for the superbowl at Allegiant Stadium.