A CEO of a Nigerian bank heading to the Superbowl was among six people killed in a horror helicopter crash in the Mohave Desert.
Dr. Herbert Wigwe, 57, co-founder of Nigeria’s largest bank, Access Bank, died along with his wife, son and three others in the California desert on Friday night.
The helicopter went down about 60 miles from Las Vegas, and Wigwe was supposedly headed to Sin City to attend Superbowl LVIII, according to Semafor.
Former Chairman of the Nigerian Exchange Group, Abimbola Ogunbanjoa, was also among those who died when the Eurocopter EC 130 crashed while en route to Boulder City, Nevada.
Investigators were seen canvassing the crash site early Saturday morning, before confirming that “no survivors have been located.”
Dr. Herbert Wigwe, 57, co-founder of Nigeria’s largest bank, Access Bank, died Friday night in a horror helicopter crash over the Mojave Desert.
The banking chief executive and leading figure in Nigeria’s economic affairs died along with his wife (pictured together), son and three others.
The former president of the Nigerian Exchange Group, Abimbola Ogunbanjoa, was also among those killed in the tragedy.
Officials have not yet determined the cause of the tragedy, and the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department said the crash site was near Nipton, on the edge of the Mojave Desert Reservation.
Tributes poured in for Wigwe after news of his death was announced, with the financial executive seen as a leading figure spearheading the expansion of the Nigerian economy.
In his work at Access Bank, he led an initiative to increase its influence across the continent, acquiring majority stakes or control over banks in countries such as Kenya, South Africa and Botswana.
After his bank became Nigeria’s largest by assets in 2019, Wigwe told Semafor that the company was finalizing its efforts to launch its first full banking service in Asia in the first quarter of 2024.
He was also known for his influence on education, and created his own college, Wigwe University, which was due to hold its first classes later this year.
Wigwe University was reported to have cost $500 million and planned to enroll 10,000 students over the next five years.
The university was part of his campaign to improve Africa’s economy, as he wrote in an op-ed for Semafor just a month before his death, that investing in higher education was crucial to expanding opportunity.
He added that improving education was key to controlling mass migration and allaying fears about how it destabilizes society, and wrote how the issue has taken a step back, including how “Donald Trump’s Republicans continue to stoke fears around security border”.
Tributes poured in for Wigwe, who spearheaded efforts to expand the Nigerian economy, including by launching his own university that would begin classes this year.
The helicopter crash was the second in California in a matter of days, after a Navy helicopter carrying five Marines crashed in the Southern California mountains during a storm Tuesday night.
The five men have been identified as: Lance Cpl. Donovan Davis, 21, of Olathe, Kansas; Sergeant. Alec Langen, 23, of Chandler, Arizona; Capt. Benjamin Moulton, 27, of Emmett, Idaho; Capt. Jack Casey, 26, of Dover, New Hampshire; and Capt. Miguel Nava, 28, of Traverse City, Michigan.
Gen. Michael J. Borgschulte, commanding general of 3rd MAW, said, “It is with great sadness and deep sadness that I share the loss of five outstanding Marines from the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing and the Flying Tigers while conducting a training flight.” . .
‘These pilots and crew members were fulfilling a calling larger than themselves and they were proud to do it.
‘We will always be grateful for your call to duty and your selfless service. “To the families of our fallen Marines, we send our deepest condolences and are committed to ensuring your support and care during this incredibly difficult time.”
All of the young men were assigned to Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 361, Marine Aircraft Group 16, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing in Miramar.
Multiple agencies launched a desperate search early Wednesday after the helicopter was reported missing.
Efforts have begun to recover the remains of the five and an investigation into the accident is underway, according to the statement.
The helicopter took off from Creech Air Force Base near Las Vegas, Nevada, on Tuesday night and was headed to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar when it disappeared.
The CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter was last reported in the Cleveland National Forest, near the US-Mexico border and about 35 miles east of its destination.
The area is currently covered in snow, making the search difficult, authorities said.