Sebastián Piñera, former President of Chile who served for two terms, passed away at the age of 74 in a helicopter accident on Tuesday, February 6.
The crash occurred near the town of Lago Ranco, with three other individuals surviving the incident. Piñera’s body was recovered from the submerged helicopter, and a post-mortem examination revealed that he had drowned.
His death has prompted a period of national mourning, and numerous tributes have been offered. Piñera was spending his holiday with his family in Bahía Coique, a lakeside resort approximately 920 km south of Santiago, the capital.
The former president frequently utilized his private helicopter for local travel, and officials have confirmed that he was piloting it during the Tuesday crash.
According to aviation expert Eddie Miceli, Piñera was regarded as a skilled pilot. Reports suggest that Piñera had lunch with his friend, businessman José Cox, on the southern shore of Lake Ranco and was returning to the northern shore when the helicopter encountered difficulties.
Weather conditions included rain and significant cloud cover at the time of the incident. An investigation is ongoing to determine the precise cause of the crash, which occurred shortly after takeoff.
Despite the tragic outcome, three other passengers, including Piñera’s sister, a friend, and the friend’s son, survived the accident.
Reports from local media indicate that the three survivors of the crash were able to exit the helicopter and reach safety on land. Video footage depicted Magdalena Piñera leaving a health center where she had received care following the accident. Addressing the gathered journalists, she praised her brother as a remarkable individual, describing him as “a great man, a generous and courageous man.”
Sebastián Piñera’s body is set to be transported to the capital, Santiago, where a state funeral is scheduled for Friday. Piñera assumed the presidency in 2010, marking the first time a conservative politician had been elected to the position since the end of military rule two decades earlier.
Born in 1949, Piñera amassed significant wealth as a savvy businessman, particularly in the 1980s when he introduced credit cards to Chile through his company Bancard.
Sebastián Piñera, a Harvard-educated economist and among Chile’s wealthiest individuals, defeated Michelle Bachelet, the country’s first female President, pledging to apply his business expertise to bolster the nation’s economy. During his initial term from 2010 to 2014, he was acknowledged for overseeing swift economic expansion.