The billionaire businessman governed Chile for two terms, the second of which was marked by violent protests
Sebastián Piñera, a wealthy entrepreneur turned two-time president of Chile, died Tuesday when the helicopter he was piloting crashed in a lake in a rural area of southern Chile, government officials and people close to the former president said.
Piñera and three passengers were traveling in his small helicopter when it splashed down during a vacation in the town of Lake Ranco, some 460 miles south of Santiago, the capital, said the former president’s longtime aide, Jaime Bellolio.
Authorities said the helicopter had just taken off in the rain following the president’s visit to the home of a friend, José Cox, when it descended for as-yet unexplained reasons into the lake, also called Lake Ranco. Piñera had been en route to his summer home nearby.
“Three people were able to unlock their belts and swim to shore,” said Bellolio. “But the president wasn’t able to do that.”