Businessman among 3 dead in Bulacan helicopter crash

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 25) — A Pampanga-based businessman was among three people killed in a helicopter crash in Malolos, Bulacan Thursday.

Police said Liberato “Levy” Laus, chairman of conglomerate Laus Group of Companies, was declared dead on arrival at the Bulacan Medical Center. The pilot was identified as Everette Coronel. The other victim, Wilfran Esteban, died at the hospital.

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines said the helicopter was bound for San Fernando, Pampanga when it crashed into a fishpond in Barangay Anilao in Malolos City at 12:47 p.m. Malolos is the capital of Bulacan province some 40 kilometers north of Manila.

The chopper left the Ninoy Aquino International Airport at 12:28 p.m.

Investigators ruled out weather and overloading as possible cause of crash, as they said the chooper only had three passengers on board. Eyewitnesses said the chopper was billowing black smoke before it crashed, and that the rotor blades snapped.

Condolences have begun pouring in for the Laus family.

In a Facebook post, Senator Richard Gordon, who also gave updates about the incident as chairman of the Philippine Red Cross, said he was "so sad and shocked at the sudden loss of my good friend, entrepreneur, and great kapampangan, Levy Laus."

The 68-year-old Laus, who is also chairman emeritus of the Pampanga Chamber of Commerce, had received a number of accolades for business and entrepreneurship.