ABACO ISLAND, Bahamas – Seven American citizens, including coal billionaire and philanthropist Chris Cline, were killed when a helicopter crashed about two miles off Grand Cay in the Abacos, Bahamas on Thursday, July 4.
The Royal Bahamas Police Force reported that the helicopter took off from Big Grand Cay around 2:00 am (local time) on Thursday, en route to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. The aircraft was reported missing to the Royal Bahamas Police Force at about 2:53 PM on Thursday when it did not arrive at the intended destination. Police officers and residents of Grand Cay, later discovered the aircraft overturned in 16 feet of water, off Grand Cay.
The bodies of four females and three males were retrieved from the aircraft.
Cline, 60-years-old, from the state of West Virginia, was identified as being one of the men. His daughter was also killed in the crash, according to the Brenton Southern Baptist Church- the family church of the Cline family.
Governor of West Virginia, Jim Justice offered his condolences on Twitter, saying “Today we lost a WV superstar and I lost a very close friend. Chris Cline built an empire and on every occasion was always there to give. What a wonderful, loving and giving man.”
Chris Cline was also known for his many philanthropic efforts in the state of West Virginia and elsewhere. He donated millions to several causes and schools, including West Virginia University and Marshall University.
“His selfless and generous support for programs and projects throughout the state improved the lives of countless West Virginians. His life’s story was one of hard work, love of family and caring support for others. My deepest condolences go out to his family.”, said Evan Jenkins, a justice at the West Virginia Supreme Court.
Chris Cline came from a family of coal miners and made most of his fortune as the owner of billionaire coal mining firm Foresight Reserves LP, headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri. His energy development company, The Cline Group operated underground coal mines in the country for several years before starting Foresight Energy to focus on Illinois mining.
Foresight Energy is among the largest holders of coal reserves in the U.S, with nearly 2.1 billion tons. Foresight Energy generated coal sales revenues of $1.097 billion last fiscal year.
Bahamian police did not provide a cause of the crash but said an investigation with civil aviation authorities was underway.