Can we really stop tragedies?

Can we really stop tragedies?

Could the helicopter crash in California, United States, which claimed the life of Mr Herbert Wigwe, the Chief Executive Officer of Nigeria’s Access Holdings, and five others, have been prevented? I doubt it.

That same day, in the US, a private passenger jet with five people aboard crash-landed on a busy highway in Florida, colliding with two vehicles on the ground in a fatal accident that claimed the lives of two people.

Two days later, a small plane near Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca State, Mexico, crashed, killing at least one person and injuring several others.


Tragic crashes have been occurring since Icarus flew with his waxed feather wings too close to the sun. There is not much we can do to stop them.


On August 12, 2015, a Bristow helicopter crashed at the Lagos Lagoon, Oworonshoki end of the Third Mainland Bridge, claiming six lives out of the 12 people on board.

That same day as the Lagos chopper tragedy, a United States helicopter carrying six Marines crashed in Nepal, killing all six people on board. The following week, a single-engine plane crashed in Hicksville, United States, leaving the pilot dead and his passenger injured. The day after, an Indonesian airliner crashed with 54 aboard, with no survivors.


After the Lagos crash, a major Nigerian newspaper, in an editorial entitled “Saving lives in the air,” said, “Too many lives have been lost unnecessarily as a result of air travel accidents. An end must be sought and found to such crashes.”

As if to dare the newspaper, three days later, there came breaking news: A Nigerian Airforce helicopter crashed early hours of Saturday morning in Kaduna, killing all seven on board!


With the crash involving Wigwe and others, as in other tragic crashes, there will be investigations and probes. But it will be going through the motions. There is not much we can use from it. No use dwelling on emotions. The world spins around; we can’t control its motion. It is very much beyond our control. There is light and darkness as there is joy and sadness. The words “birth” and “death” rhyme. I am no doomsayer, but what will be, will be. There’s nothing we can do about it. We can only say in Igbo, onwunbiko, death we implore.

We will remember the statistics of all the other crashes in the past. But, as I still repeat, that won’t prevent future aircraft crashes from happening.


Death is the fate of all human beings, sooner or later, and air crashes are by no means the major means. Halfway through its voyage, the Titanic struck an iceberg and sank, resulting in the deaths of over 1,500 people.

No amount of preventive risk-taking measures can change what was destined. An old man told me his son, who works at Chevron, was already seated in that ill-fated chopper in Lagos until he was asked to leave for the “ogas” as it was “not his turn,” to fly. In the other sense, it was not his turn to “go.”


It is all right to ask what could have gone wrong. It is quite all right to task our brains for better ways to “prevent” accidents from happening. These are all in line with living. But we must accept that no system can prevent all possible outcomes of every possible circumstance. No system is perfect. No plan is foolproof. Even if air travel, especially commercial flight, is considered the safest, no safety measures will ever anticipate every situation.

We always try to prevent the risks we know about but will always be surprised by a risk we never considered. The risk is never anticipated, and we are never prepared. And we will never be. Our minds look back to the past, but the risks are in the future. Even if an incident like this will never happen again, which you know is very unlikely, there will be some unknown events that will shock us in the future. That is the irony of our being.


Again, if you take more risks, your life is a time bomb. One octogenarian told me he would never take risks. When he wants to go, he just wants to switch off the light.

We pray for the repose of the soul of Mr Wigwe and those who died in that crash and commiserate with their families. Those who are gone cannot come back, no matter the prayers for them.

Perhaps, we will understand it better by and by through these lyrics of Jim Reeves: “This world is not my home I’m just a-passin’ through…” and …” I’ll fly away, to a land where joy shall never end, I’ll fly away…”


Cosmas Odoemena

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