Crash: How Herbert Wigwe’s aide ‘pulled out’ from ill-fated flight at last minute, travelled by road instead

...List of passengers on board crashed helicopter


Faleye Olushola, the Special Assistant to the Co-founder and Group Chief Executive Officer of Access Holdings Plc, Herbert Wigwe, narrowly avoided tragedy on Friday night amidst the ill-fated helicopter crash that claimed the lives of his boss, wife, and son.

Recall that NewsClick Nigeria had earlier reported how Wigwe, along with his wife, Chizoba, and son, tragically lost their lives in a helicopter crash in the United States.

However, by a stroke of luck, Olushola, whose name was listed on the manifest, narrowly escaped death as he opted against boarding the ill-fated flight, choosing instead to travel by road.

According to ThisDay, Olushola had accompanied Wigwe, his wife, son, and former Group Chairman of Nigerian Exchange Group Plc (NGX Group), Abimbola Ogunbanjo, on a flight from London, United Kingdom, to Palm Springs, California, US.

Upon reaching Palm Springs, Olushola made the decision not to board the helicopter bound for Boulder City in Nevada, citing concerns about night-time weather conditions.

Opting to travel by road instead, Olushola narrowly avoided the tragic air disaster that claimed the lives of four others.

Sources said the chopper was headed to Las Vegas when it crashed near a border city between Nevada and California on Friday night. The US government confirmed all on board dead.

Saturday night, The New York Times quoted US authorities as saying that a helicopter carrying six people crashed on Friday night near the California-Nevada border, roughly 60 miles south of Las Vegas, and that no survivors had been located as of Saturday morning.

“The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said that the Eurocopter EC130 helicopter crashed at around 10 p.m. local time near Nipton, California, an unincorporated community about 60 miles south of Las Vegas in eastern San Bernardino County,” the report stated.

The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) are said to be investigating the cause of the crash.

According to the report, “officials at the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department were made aware of the downed aircraft at 10:12 p.m. local time, a public information officer with the department, Mara Rodriguez, said in a statement, adding that the scene of the crash was determined to be east of Interstate 15, near Halloran Springs Road.

Addressing the media Sunday morning, Board Member of NTSB, Michael Graham disclosed that the Airbus, EC130 helicopter departed Palm Springs, California enroute to Boulder in Nevada at 8.45 pm on Friday.

“At about 10.8pm, the helicopter impacted Halloran Springs, California.  Halloran Springs is  about 75 miles northeast Boston. Two crew members and four passengers were aboard and were fatally injured,” Graham explained.

“This is the beginning of a long process; we will not jump into any conclusion, and the information that I provide for you tonight is preliminary. A preliminary report will be available in a couple of weeks and however, a full NTSB investigation will be made and investigations will last between 24 months before the final report is published.

“Additional details about the accident include: the crew consisted of a pilot -in- command and a safety pilot; the accident flight was operated by Woebeck Air LSC, as a charter flight. Witness reports of the weather conditions at the time of the flight suggest rain and a wintery mist. The helicopter was not equipped with a voice recorder or a data recorder. This helicopter was not required to be equipped with those kinds of devices. We are aware of media reports of down power lines near the accident site; we will be looking into this report during our on-the-scene investigative phase of this investigation. Several NTSB investigators will be examining the following areas: airworthiness to include maintenance instructions of the helicopter, operations, meteorology and aero traffic control,” he explained.