Sebastián Piñera, former president of Chile, dies in a helicopter crash

A helicopter crash in Lago Ranco claimed the life of former Chilean president Sebastián Piñera. Three persons survived the accident.

Sebastián Piñera, who had been the president of Chile twice (2010-2014 and 2018-2022), passed away this afternoon at 74 years old due to a helicopter crash in Lago Ranco, Los Ríos region.

The helicopter was owned by Piñera, and Chilean media reported that three other people, one of them a relative of Piñera, survived the accident. Piñera could not unbuckle his seat belt and drowned, according to the press. The Navy arrived at the location where the helicopter plunged, which was about 40 meters deep. Chilean TV said that the rescue teams are still working to retrieve the body of the former president.

The accident happened at 2:47 p.m. (local time) in the Iliue area. The Interior Ministry said that the three survivors reached the shore after the helicopter fell into the lake. Piñera had gone to have lunch with the businessman José Cox, as reported by the newspaper La Tercera. The helicopter flew a few meters, but lost control near the shore.

Chile’s 24 Horas channel said that Piñera had recently renewed his helicopter pilot license, and he was flying the aircraft. “He was very confident, very updated as a pilot,” a 24 Hours reporter said.

The Navy, Firefighters, Carabineros, Samu Metropolitano and other emergency staff went to the place of the accident.

After the tragic event, it was said that Gabriel Boric is on his way to the La Moneda palace.

Piñera was born on December 1, 1949 in Santiago, Chile. He was a commercial engineer with a specialization in Economics from the Catholic University, and he had four children with Cecilia Morel. He also obtained a Master’s degree and a PhD in Economics from Harvard University, where he also worked as an assistant professor.

He supported the Christian Democracy during his university years and thought about joining them or the National Renewal (RN), but he did not do it at that time. He was elected senator for the 8th Eastern Metropolitan Region District from 1990 to 1998 as an independent with an RN seat, a party he joined after being elected. He was declared a presidential candidate in 1999, but he withdrew his candidacy five months later in favor of Joaquín Lavín, the candidate of the Independent Democratic Union (UDI). He was the president of RN from 2001 to 2004.

Piñera ran for the Senate again in the 2001 parliamentary elections for Valparaíso Costa, but his candidacy was dropped in an internal deal of the Alliance for Chile. He left the presidency of RN in 2004, advised by Lavín. He was declared RN’s presidential candidate in 2005 and ran against Lavín without primaries. He lost in the second round against Michelle Bachelet with 46.5% of the votes. Later, he participated in the creation of the Coalition for Change, in 2009, and was declared again as a presidential candidate. In 2010 he was elected president, beating former president Eduardo Frei with 51.56% of the votes.

After his time in La Moneda, he continued as the president of the Futuro Foundation and led the Avanza Chile foundation, which he founded in 2010. In 2017 he won a presidential election again, and his second government started on March 11, 2018. He gave the presidential sash to Gabriel Boric, his successor, in March 2022.

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