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Nigerian banker among 6 feared dead in Mojave Desert helicopter crash

UPI
An Airbus H130 helicopter similar to the one shown here crashed in San Bernardino County, Calif., Friday night with six people feared dead. Photo courtesy Airbus

Feb. 10 (UPI) -- A Nigerian banker, his wife and son, and a financier are among six people feared dead after a helicopter crashed in the Mojave Desert near the California-Nevada border Friday, authorities said Saturday.

Access Bank co-founder Herbert Wigwe died in the helicopter crash that killed up to six people in San Bernardino County, Calif., Friday night.

Wigwe was traveling with his wife and son, who also were in the helicopter when it crashed, the Premium Times news outlet in Nigeria reported.

Wigwe's surviving family in his home village of Isiokpo, Nigeria, confirmed he died in the helicopter crash, Bloomberg reported.

Also identified among the victims is Abimbola Ogunbanjo, who served as president of the National Council of the Nigeria Stock Exchange from 2017 - 2021 and group chairman of the Nigerian Exchange Group PLC in 2021 and 2022.

Ogunbanjo's family in Lagos confirmed he died in the helicopter accident.

Two other victims, including the pilot, have not been identified as of Saturday afternoon.

Wigwe's family said the helicopter was flying to Las Vegas, which is where the Super Bowl is scheduled Sunday.

No survivors were found after an initial search of the area where the copter when down late Friday night, the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department said in a statement issued to media outlets.

"The scene of the crash was determined to be east of the 15 freeway near Halloran Springs road," the sheriff said. "We are not able to confirm how many people were on board or their names. No survivors have been located."

Six people were aboard the flight, the Federal Aviation Administration told CNN.

The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board sent an investigative team to the crash site of the Airbus H130 copter, the NTSB posted on X.

The agency listed the crash site as near Halloran Springs, Calif., which is about 80 miles southwest of Las Vegas along Interstate 15.

The Airbus H130, formerly the Eurocopter EC130, is a single-engine chopper capable of holding up to eight, including the pilot. It commonly is used for sightseeing, emergency medical services, charter flights and other purposes.

The H130 has a cruise speed of 129 knots, a range of 327 nautical miles and can fly for up to four hours without refueling, according to Airbus.

The deadly helicopter crash occurred three days after five Marines were killed in a military helicopter crash near San Diego.