The loss of former Chilean President Sebastián Piñera in a helicopter crash has sent ripples of sorrow across the nation and beyond.
In a tragic event on Tuesday evening, Sebastián Piñera met his untimely demise while en route to southern Chile, leaving a legacy shadowed by this sudden incident.
Sebastián Piñera, aged 74, embarked on what was supposed to be a routine trip with family members but faced adverse weather conditions that led to the fatal crash.
While Piñera could not survive the ordeal, his sister Magdalena Piñera, son-in-law Ignacio Guerrero, and Guerrero's son miraculously swam to safety. The journey commenced from the residence of Chilean businessman José Cox amidst challenging weather, underscoring the unforeseen dangers of air travel under such conditions.
Magdalena Piñera provided a poignant recount of her brother's last moments, emphasizing his selflessness even in imminent danger. She recounted his last words, urging his family to prioritize their safety over his, a testament to his character and dedication to his loved ones.
In the wake of this tragedy, Chilean President Gabriel Boric declared a three-day national mourning period to honor the legacy of the two-term president. Piñera's contributions to Chile, from steering the country through the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake and ensuring the successful rescue of 33 miners to managing the pandemic, were highlighted by Boric as emblematic of his commitment to the nation's welfare.
The declaration for a state funeral underlines the gravity of this loss and the high regard in which Piñera was held. Plans for the wake, beginning Wednesday afternoon and concluding Thursday, with the funeral procession and burial set for Friday, give form to the nation's collective mourning and reflection on Piñera's profound impact.
President Boric's words further elucidate the depth of Piñera's dedication to Chile, encapsulating his life's work as a pursuit of unity and progress for his country.
The helicopter's departure from José Cox's home began an ill-fated journey that concluded with a crash into a lake near Lago Ranco. The immediate response from local security and SAMU facilitated the survivors' rescue, a small mercy in an otherwise devastating episode.
The aftermath of this event has been a testament to Piñera's widespread influence and the void his passing has created. Across the political and social spectrum, tributes have poured in, reflecting on a life devoted to public service and the betterment of Chile.
Here is what President Boric said in his tribute:
I have instructed that former President Sebastián Piñera be given the honors of a state funeral and decreed three days of national mourning to honor the memory of the twice-elected President of Chile. President Piñera contributed, from his vision, to build great agreements for the good of the country. He was a democrat from the first hour and genuinely sought what he believed to be the best for the country. Chile is all of us and we must dream it, draw it, and build it among all of us said Sebastián Piñera upon assuming his second presidential term on March 11, 2018.
The tragic demise of Sebastián Piñera not only marks the end of a significant chapter in Chile's political history but also serves as a stark reminder of the fragility of life. His unexpected death, under the dire circumstances of a helicopter crash, has unified the nation in grief and respect for his considerable contributions.
From his tenure as president, marked by decisive action during natural disasters and crises, to his final moments characterized by concern for his family's safety, Piñera's legacy is one of dedication and service to his country. As preparations for his wake, state funeral, and the ensuing national mourning proceed, Chile and its people pause to reflect on the profound impact of a leader who navigated the nation through some of its most challenging times, always with an enduring vision of unity and progress.