Former Chilean president Sebastian Piñera tragically died due to “asphyxiation due to submersion” following a helicopter crash in Lake Ranco, approximately 900 kilometers south of Santiago. The autopsy confirmed this cause of death, however, the circumstances surrounding this fatal accident remain unclear. Fabio Valdés, a lifelong friend of the two-time president, provided his insights.
Valdés shared that on the day of the accident, Piñera and his companions left the Cox house in the morning and decided to return by helicopter at lunchtime. The weather was drizzling but not severe, and the trip was a short seven-minute flight. Despite the weather, Valdés explained that it wasn’t reckless to make this short return trip according to Cox, who was also a pilot.
He further shared that during the flight the helicopter’s windshield fogged up, causing Piñera, who was piloting, to fly blind.
When the helicopter was about 100 meters away from the Cox house, Piñera tried to return to land, possibly making a bad maneuver due to his impaired vision, resulting in the helicopter falling and landing on its side.
Valdés also shared that the three survivors were able to escape the sinking helicopter, but they were unable to save Piñera, who was half submerged in the water.
Valdés, who was a schoolmate of Piñera, added that he had warned the former president about the dangers of helicopters, yet Piñera, who had faith in himself and had previously survived other mishaps, continued to fly them.
Diver’s account of discovering Piñera’s body
Ricardo González, a member of the Lago Ranco Fire Department who found Piñera’s body, described the recovery operation. He said that the conditions were favorable for free diving and that Piñera’s body was found free, without a belt, on the side of the helicopter, 28 meters deep.
When the divers arrived at the scene, they were informed by witnesses and relatives that the person trapped was the former president, Piñera.
Piñera’s remains began to be laid to rest in the Hall of Honor of the former National Congress in the Chilean capital. The ceremony will go on for two days, after which the remains will be transferred to La Moneda and then to the Metropolitan Cathedral for the celebration of tributes.