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Preliminary report says Wigwe’s helicopter was seen as ‘fireball’ before crash

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The US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) says law enforcement and witnesses in vehicles saw the helicopter carrying Herbert Wigwe, the group chief executive officer (GCEO) of Access Holdings Plc, as a “fireball” before its eventual crash.

The GCEO of Access Holdings was in the chopper with registration N130CZ alongside his wife, son and Abimbola Ogunbanjo, the former group chairman of Nigerian Exchange Group Plc (NGX Group).

All six people onboard have been confirmed dead.

In a preliminary investigation report, the NTSB said the witnesses reported that the weather on the fateful day of the helicopter crash was a mix of rain and snow.

The board said the automatic dependent surveillance broadcast (ADS-B) technology built in the helicopter that provides the position of an aircraft, recorded an increase in ground speed before the crash.

“The accident flight departed Palm Springs International Airport (PSP) at 2045 under visual flight rules and flew a northwesterly heading for about 2 miles before following US Highway 111 to Interstate (I) 10 at altitudes varying between 2,500 – 3,000 ft mean sea level (msl),” the report read in part.

“The helicopter continued along I-10, crossed over San Bernadino International Airport, San Bernadino, California, and then followed I-215 to I-15.

The helicopter followed I-15 toward the planned destination of Boulder City Municipal Airport (BVU), Boulder City, Nevada, climbed between 4,000 – 5,500 ft msl, then descended to about 3,500 ft msl near Barstow, California, where the ADS-B track data was lost about 2146, likely due to terrain interference.

“ADS-B data resumed at 2207 near the Halloran Springs/I-15 exit west of the accident location. The last ADS-B data points for the flight tracked east-southeast, gradually descended in altitude, and increased in ground speed (see Figures 1 and 2).

“The accident site was located 0.31 miles east-southeast of the last data point at an elevation of about 3,360 ft msl.

“According to law enforcement, several witnesses who were traveling in vehicles on I-15, called 911 to report observing a ‘fireball’ to the south.

The witnesses reported the weather conditions in the area were “not good” and raining with a snow mix. The accident site was located by law enforcement at 2346.”

The board said the “wreckage was located in high mountainous desert and scrub brush covered terrain, and
debris were scattered about 300 ft along a 120° magnetic heading from the initial impact point”.

“All major helicopter components were identified at the accident site,” the report indicated.

 

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