Former President of Chile, SEBASTIÁN PIÑERA's final words were 'you jump first' to his sister and two friends who survived the helicopter crash that killed him

Thursday, February 8, 2024
 – Former Chilean President, Sebastián Piñera saved the lives of three passengers, including his sister, by ordering them to jump from his helicopter before he was killed in a horrifying crash.

Karla Rubilar, the former social development and family minister, told Chile's Canal 24 that Piñera told the survivors, ‘You jump first because if I jump with you, the helicopter will fall on you.’

The aircraft, with the former president aboard, then crashed into a lake in the southern municipality of Lago Ranco on Tuesday during heavy rain.

Piñera, 74, who served from 2010-2014 and 2018-2022, was on vacation with his family and was travelling with his sister Magdalena Piñera and two friends, Ignacio Guerrero and his son Bautista Guerrero.

The trio had earlier had lunch at the home of his university classmate, José Cox.

A fire department diver found President Piñera's body lying inside the helicopter, which was 91 feet under the water's surface.

It took divers about 10 minutes to retrieve the body and place it on a boat.

'The extraction was not complex, since the weather conditions, temperature, water, wind, depth and survey, were favourable for free diving,' Los Ríos regional prosecutor Ricardo González said, according to La Tercera newspaper.

'He was a great man, a very generous and very brave man,' Magdalena Piñera told Chilean news network Meganoticias on Tuesday night.

Rubilar, who served as spokesperson during the former president's second term in office, said his final words were typical of a leader who put others before himself.

She said President Piñera wanted to assist the administration of President Gabriel Boric with the recovery efforts following the wildfires that killed 131 people and burned 3,000 homes last week in the Valparaíso region.

'The one who told us yesterday, 'Help this government, no matter what the opposition was like, help it, because Chile comes first.' The man who tells you, 'You jump first, because I can't think about myself, because the helicopter could fall on us', being his last words (...) that was the president,' Rubilar said.

An autopsy showed that Piñera's death was caused by asphyxiation due to submersion, according to Los Ríos regional prosecutor Tatiana Esquivel.

Esquivel said that they still haven't determined the cause of the accident but that forensic data is allowing them to develop a 'more probable theory' and a specialized team is currently investigating the crash site.

Piñera's remains were sent to receive state honours in Santiago, the Chilean capital, on Wednesday.

The former president's body will remain at the headquarters of the former Congress in Santiago.

A private viewing will be held before being opened to the public and a funeral will be held on Friday.

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