New Telegraph

Ogunbanjo’s Family Sues US Charter Service Company Over Chopper Crash

Ogunbanjo’s Family Sues US Charter Service Company That Killed Him, Wigwe’s

Following the helicopter crash that took the life of Abimbola Ogunbanjo, former Chief Executive of Access Bank, his wife, and son, Herbert Wigwe, the Ogunbanjo family has sued the company that provided the helicopter for the service. They are seeking a jury trial and payment for Ogunbanjo’s burial and funeral expenses, as well as other damages.

According to Washington Post, the family of Ogunbanjo filed a lawsuit on Wednesday claiming the flight should have been grounded because of treacherous weather.

The relatives of Abimbola Ogunbanjo, the former Chair of the Nigerian Stock Exchange, alleged in the court filing that the charter company, Orbic Air LLC, improperly flew the helicopter despite a “wintry mix” of snowy and rainy conditions in the Mojave Desert where the crash occurred on Friday, February 9.

New Telegraph recalls that the 61-year-old late Ogunbanjo who was on his way to Las Vegas for the Super Bowl was killed along with Herbert Wigwe, Chief Executive of Nigeria’s Access Bank, and Wigwe’s wife and 29-year-old son.

Both pilots, Benjamin Pettingill, 25, and Blake Hansen, 22 also died. They were licensed as commercial helicopter pilots as well as flight instructors.

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According to Washingtonpost.com, one of the attorneys, Andrew C. Robb, who filed the lawsuit, said Ogunbanjo’s family was seeking “answers and accountability.”

“Helicopters do not do very well in snow and ice,” Robb told The Associated Press. “This flight was entirely preventable, and we don’t know why they took off.”

Ogunbanjo’s wife and two children on Wednesday has filed the suit in San Bernardino County Superior Court against Orbic Air and its CEO, Brady Bowers, alleging wrongful death and negligence.

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

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 (91 meters) of desert scrub.

Investigators found the fuselage was fragmented, and the cockpit and cabin were destroyed. Damage to 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.

Reacting to the action of the Ogunbanjo family, aviation industry stakeholder and security consultant, Group Captain John Ojikutu, commended the family for suing the company and said it was long overdue, insisting that suing the company was the right thing to do.

Ojikutu said, “I Expected this long ago because from the very first day I knew something went wrong. The pilot, the captain in Command, was 28 years and the co-pilot was 22 years old.

“I queried the accident report and I said, how many hours of flights had the captain flown under such unfavourable weather?

“How many hours had he flown in the night, using Visual Flight Ruel (VFR). I am so happy the company was sued. I would have been surprised if it was not sued,”

Meanwhile, Aviation Lawyer, Pekun Sowole, said that the Ogunbanjo family should engage a private investigator to investigate the cost of the crash so that they would be able to determine the damages incurred and the liability.

Speaking further, he noted that if this is not done, the damages would be limited to US regulation, which has specific penalty for such accident and it doesn’t amount to much.

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