“The crash of a helicopter that killed six people including a top Nigerian banker and his family along the California-Nevada border Saturday night immediately strikes one as a tragedy that may have been avoided given the known weather conditions at that time,” said leading aviation attorney Robert A. Clifford, Lead Counsel in the crash in Ethiopia of a Boeing 737 MAX8 that killed all 157 on board from 35 countries.

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Clifford, founder and senior partner of Clifford Law Offices in Chicago, represents some 70 victims in that crash, including families from Africa, that is pending in federal district court in Chicago. He also has represented the victims of many helicopter crashes and questions the decision of pilots and others to take off in what is described as difficult weather conditions.

“The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigators will thoroughly examine all aspects of what led up to the crash and ultimately will use their expertise to determine the probable cause of this crash to see if it was avoidable,” Clifford said. “It is always a horrific tragedy when innocent lives are lost in an aviation disaster.”

Herbert Wigwe, 57, CEO of one is Nigeria’s top banks, and his wife and son were on that Airbus Eurocopter EC130 helicopter when it crashed late Saturday near Interstate 15 in Southern California’s Mojave Desert. All six people on board were killed, including Bamofin Abimbola Ogunbanjo, former chair of NGX Group, the Nigerian stock exchange and two pilots.


The chopper was heading from Palm Springs Airport in California to Boulder City, Nevada, about 80 miles from Las Vegas when it crashed about 10 p.m. local time Saturday. The French-made helicopter was chartered from Orbit Air, LLC in Burbank. An NTSB spokesman said the helicopter was not equipped with a cockpit voice recorder or a flight data recorder, but that all major components of the aircraft have been found. The debris from the crash was about 100 yards long, according to reports.

Logs from the California Highway Patrol show there was rain and snow in the area at about the time of the crash.  Witnesses reported that it was raining with a “wintry mix” at the time of the crash, according to the NTSB. People also reported a fire on the helicopter plus some downed power lines.

Wigwe, a highly successful businessman and considered a “visionary leader,” also had interests in the education sector.  His private university, founded in Nigeria’s oil-rich Niger Delta region where he was from, is scheduled to open in September. Last year he was quoted as saying the university was “an opportunity for me to give back to society.”


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