The Nigerian government has confirmed the initiation of discussions with the United States government regarding the ongoing investigation into a helicopter crash that resulted in the tragic loss of life, including Herbert Wigwe, the Group Chief Executive Officer of Access Holdings, and several other prominent Nigerians. The crash occurred in California, USA, on Friday.
As part of the investigation process, American investigators have announced plans to relocate the wreckage of the crashed chopper to a new site within the United States for comprehensive testing, scheduled for Tuesday.
Herbert Wigwe, along with his wife, son, and a former Group Chairman of the Nigerian Stock Exchange, lost their lives when the Airbus Helicopter EC130B4 they were traveling in crashed near the border of California and Nevada. The crash claimed the lives of all six occupants, including two crew members.
The tragic incident has prompted mourning both in Nigeria and abroad, with condolences pouring in from President Bola Tinubu, President Emmanuel Macron of France, Nigerian state governors, business leaders, and other prominent figures.
The Nigerian Safety Investigation Bureau (NSIB) is collaborating with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) of the United States to provide necessary support for the investigation. The NSIB, responsible for investigating air crashes in Nigeria, aligns its efforts with international aviation protocols outlined in Chapter 5, Subsection 27 of the International Civil Aviation Organization’s Annex 13, which addresses “Aircraft Accident and Incident Investigation.”
According to the NSIB, this collaboration allows for the appointment of an expert by Nigeria to visit the accident scene, access relevant information approved for release by the investigating state, and receive a copy of the final investigation report.
The Director-General of NSIB, Captain Alex Badeh, expressed Nigeria’s commitment to full cooperation with the US agency, aiming for a thorough investigation to enhance transport safety in both countries.
The investigation teams are conducting meticulous examinations of the wreckage, gathering crucial information on pilot records, flight dispatch records, and aircraft maintenance records. The NTSB is overseeing the relocation of the wreckage for further analysis.
Meanwhile, the NTSB has identified major components of the crashed helicopter at the accident site and is conducting detailed examinations. Witnesses reported adverse weather conditions at the time of the crash, and investigations into airworthiness, maintenance, and structure are ongoing.
Condolence visits have been made by dignitaries, including Ogun State Governor Dapo Abiodun and Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, to the families of the deceased. In Omike community, the hometown of Herbert Wigwe, residents have taken to the streets in mourning, demanding a thorough investigation and the repatriation of the victims’ remains for burial in Nigeria.