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NTSB releases new details on fatal California helicopter crash

Updated February 11, 2024 - 3:34 pm

The National Transportation Safety Board is continuing to investigate a fatal helicopter crash that left six people dead late Friday near the Nevada-California border.

The crash happened near Halloran Springs, about 80 miles south of Las Vegas. Flight data showed that the helicopter was following Interstate 15 from Palm Springs towards Boulder City, but veered off course and began a “gradual descent and increasing ground speed,” NTSB official Michael Graham said during a press conference Sunday afternoon.

“Flight track data ended about a quarter-mile from the wreckage location,” Graham said. “The wreckage site shows the helicopter impacted the terrain in a nose-low and right-bank angle.”

Among those killed were Herbet Wigwe, the chief executive of Access Bank, one of Nigeria’s largest financial institutions, and Bamofin Abimbola Ogunbanjo, the former chair of NGX Group, the Nigerian stock exchange. Wigwe’s wife and son were also killed, along with the helicopter pilot and safety pilot.

The chartered Airbus EC130 aircraft was operated by the California-based company Orbic Air LLC, Graham said Saturday.

Investigators on Sunday examined the crash site, which was about 100 yards long, and performed aerial drone mapping. Graham said all major components of the helicopter were accounted for.

The first reports of the fiery crash began about 10:08 p.m. Friday. Witnesses also reported rain and “wintry mix” in the area, and Graham said Sunday that meteorologists have confirmed the precipitation.

A preliminary report on the crash is expected in about a month, while the full investigation could take one to two years, Graham said.

Contact Katelyn Newberg at knewberg@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0240.

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