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CEO of major Nigerian bank killed in California helicopter crash, director-general of WTO says


The CEO of one of Nigeria’s largest banks was killed on Friday when a helicopter he was riding in crashed in the Mojave Desert in Southern California.

Herbert Wigwe, CEO of Access Bank, was among six people on board when the helicopter crashed shortly after 10 p.m. His death was confirmed by Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, director general of the World Trade Organization and formerly Nigeria’s finance minister, in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.

The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department said the helicopter crashed east of Interstate 15 near Halloran Springs Road, which is near the California-Nevada border and about an 80-mile drive (128.75 kilometers) from Las Vegas.

The Federal Aviation Administration confirmed the helicopter — a Eurocopter EC 120 — had six people aboard. The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate. The NTSB said investigators would arrive on Saturday and begin gathering information.

The sheriff’s department said they had not found any survivors, but declined to elaborate.

KABC-TV reported the helicopter took off from Palm Springs Airport around 8:45 p.m. and was en route to Boulder City, Nevada. Boulder City is about 26 miles (41 kilometers) southeast of Las Vegas, where the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers are set to play in Super Bowl LVIII on Sunday.

Halloran Springs Road crosses over Interstate 15 in an area known to travelers for an abandoned gas station with a sign declaring “Lo Gas” and “Eat.” It’s located in a remote area of the Mojave Desert, with an elevation of nearly 3,000 feet (914.40 meters). Logs from the California Highway Patrol show there was rain and snow in the area at about the time of the crash.

The crash comes just three days after a U.S. Marine Corps helicopter crashed in the mountains outside San Diego on Tuesday during historic downpours. Five Marines were killed.

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Richmond reported from Madison, Wisconsin. Beam reported from Sacramento, California.



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