(CMR) A billionaire West Virginia coal tycoon was among seven Americans killed in a helicopter crash off the coast of the Bahamas on Thursday evening, according to local officials and reports.
Chris Cline, 61, a former coal miner who turned his Foresight Energy company into a billion-dollar operation in 2015, was killed in the crash at about 5 p.m. local time, the Palm Beach Post reported.
The Bahamian helicopter crash that killed billionaire coal magnate Chris Cline, his daughter and five others, was headed to Fort Lauderdale for a guest’s medical emergency when it went down, according to a report.
Relatives called authorities when the chopper failed to reach Florida, where it was headed to deal with the issue, Delvin Major, chief of the Bahamian Air Accident Investigation Department, told the Palm Beach Post Friday.
It’s unclear which passenger needed aid.
A major Republican donor worth $1.8 billion, according to Forbes, Cline was on board the chopper with his 22-year-old daughter, Kameron, when it dropped into the Atlantic Ocean minutes after taking off. At least three of the doomed passengers were friends of Kameron’s, a recent college graduate.
Cline would have turned 61 on Friday. Cline, who started working in the West Virginia mines at the age of 15 before building his own empire.
Bahamas police identified the other victims as David Jude, 56, of Kentucky; Brittney Layne Searson, 21, of Florida; Jillian Nicole Clark, 22, of Los Angeles; and Delaney Lee Wykle, 22, of Washington. The pilot was identified as Geoffrey Lee Painter, 52, of the United Kingdom.
The wreckage was discovered on the ocean floor about two miles off the coast of Cline’s private island.
The cause of the crash is under investigation. Meteorologists have said weather was not a factor.