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Herbert Wigwe’s Death: Family Sues Helicopter Charter Company



Herbert Wigwe's Family Sues Helicopter Charter Company

The family of Nigerian businessman Herbert Wigwe, who perished in a February helicopter disaster in Southern California that claimed six lives, filed a complaint on Wednesday, April 10, alleging the aircraft should have been grounded due to hazardous weather, as DDM News can cite with authority.

In the legal petition, relatives of former Nigerian stock market head Abimbola Ogunbanjo claim that Orbic Air, the business that leased the helicopter, flew it improperly despite a “wintry mix” of snowy and rainy circumstances in the Mojave Desert on February 9.

The deceased were Ogunbanjo, 61, Herbert Wigwe, the CEO of Access Bank in Nigeria, as well as Wigwe’s spouse and son, 29 years old. Ogunbanjo was traveling to Vegas in order to see the Super Bowl.

The two pilots, Blake Hansen, 22, and Benjamin Pettingill, 25, also perished. They held licenses to instruct flying as well as operate commercial helicopters.

According to one of the lawyers involved in the complaint, Andrew C. Robb, Ogunbanjo’s family is looking for “answers and accountability.”

“In snow and ice, helicopters perform poorly,” Robb stated to The Associated Press. “There was no reason why they took off, and this flight was completely avoidable.”

Alleging wrongful death and negligence, Ogunbanjo’s wife and two children filed a lawsuit against Orbic Air and its CEO, Brady Bowers, in San Bernardino County Superior Court.

The suit also names the unidentified successors of Pettingill and Hansen, who Ogunbanjo’s family also faults.

Orbic Air did not reply to an email and phone call seeking comment.

The National Transportation Safety Board is still investigating the cause of the crash. In February, the agency released a preliminary investigation report that outlined the helicopter’s flight path and provided details about wreckage that was strewn across 100 yards of desert scrub.

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The engine and the metal deposits that were found would indicate that it was operational at the time of the crash.

The report cited law enforcement, saying several witnesses who were traveling in vehicles along Interstate 15 had called 911 to report observing a “fireball” to the south. The witnesses reported that it was raining with a mix of snow.

The helicopter left Palm Springs Airport around 8:45 p.m. and was traveling to Boulder City, Nevada, about 26 miles southeast of Las Vegas, where the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers were set to play that Sunday in Super Bowl 58.

The lawsuit seeks a jury trial and payment for Ogunbanjo’s burial and funeral expenses, as well as other damages.

Robb’s firm, Robb and Robb, represented Kobe Bryant’s widow, Vanessa Bryant, in her lawsuit against the pilot and owners of the helicopter that crashed in Calabasas in 2020, killing the NBA star, his daughter Gianna, and seven others. The lawsuit was settled in 2021 for an undisclosed amount.

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