Billionaire Chris Cline, 60, who is noted for his success in saving the coal industry, has died in a helicopter crash near the Bahamas. Authorities say the aircraft that was carrying seven people and traveling to Florida, went down in the Atlantic Ocean. There were no survivors.
“The helicopter carrying 60-year-old Cline and others smashed into the water shortly after leaving Grand Cay, an island in the Bahamas. The New York Times reported. The group was headed for Fort Lauderdale.”
Reports coming in on Friday afternoon confirm that one of the other victims is one of Cline’s daughters. There are also reports that the helicopter left on the trip due to a possible illness of one of the passengers.
It is also reported that the pilot did not issue any distress calls before the crash or have permission to depart the Bahamas when he did.
Identities of the other five victims have not been confirmed.
“Cline, a native of Beckley, West Virginia, began working in the state’s coal mines at age 22.
“He later founded the Cline Group and Foresight Energy, both in the mining and energy industries. In 2015, he sold a stake in the latter for $1.4 billion, according to Forbes.”
Cline was a major donor to his alma mater Marshall University and gave generously to various political figures.
The crash, which was reported around 5:00 pm on Thursday, occurred just one day before Cline was to turn 61.
West Virginia governor Jim Justice posted a tribute to the man who had been his friend for decades.
“Today we lost a WV superstar and I lost a very close friend. Our families go back to the beginning of the Cline empire - Pioneer Fuel.
“Chris Cline built an empire and on every occasion was always there to give. What a wonderful, loving, and giving man.”