Nigeria’s first female combat helicopter pilot was killed in a freak car accident on Tuesday.
Tolulope Arotile, 24, died of head injuries sustained after a former school friend accidentally reversed into her while she was trying to greet her, the country’s air force said in a statement.
President Muhammadu Buhari said he received the news with “deep pain” and sent condolences to her family and colleagues, his aide said in a statement.
Buhari recalled he had witnessed Arotile skills in flying combat helicopters and saluted her contributions to the nation’s battle against terrorism and armed banditry attacks.
It’s sad to learn that that few minutes after I passed the NAF Airforce Base Kaduna,a tragic accident happened which took away the life of one of Nigeria’s finest and first female combat Helicopter Pilot,Tolulope Arotile.A great loss to our country.May her soul Rest In Peace. pic.twitter.com/jAZ4dmJr1U
— Senator Shehu Sani (@ShehuSani) July 15, 2020
“The President salutes Arotile’s bravery in the field to protect the country from onslaught of bandits and terrorists, assuring that her memory will be indelible, and her efforts remembered,” the statement read.
Nigeria has been battling Boko haram insurgency for more than a decade in the country’s northeast. Tens of thousands have died and millions displaced in the region.
The Nigerian Air Force described Arotile’s death as an “irreparable loss”.
The agency said it was in “deep sorrow” as the young pilot contributed significantly to combat operations against insecurity in northern states.