A helicopter crash Thursday off the coast of the Bahamas killed seven Americans, including billionaire coal magnate Chris Cline, according to police and multiple reports.
Update 12:20 p.m. EDT July 5: Bahamian police told The Associated Press they launched a search Thursday afternoon for a helicopter that went down off the coast of the Bahamas after receiving a report that Cline and others had failed to arrive as they were expected in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Cline died in the crash, his former attorney, Brian Glasser, told Bloomberg News. Glasser told West Virginia MetroNews that one of Cline's daughter's, Kameron, and a friend of Cline's, David Jude, were also on the helicopter when it crashed.
Authorities in Nassau continued work Friday to confirm the identities of the victims.
Update 9:30 a.m. EDT July 5: An attorney who represented Cline, Brian Glasser, confirmed to Bloomberg News that the man once dubbed the "King of Coal" died in Thursday's crash. Cline would have turned 61 years old Friday.
"He was a young man," Glasser told Bloomberg. "He was audacious. He was a great man, and he will be missed."
In a statement obtained by The Associated Press, the Royal Bahamas Police Force said the helicopter was carrying four women and three men when it went missing a short time after leaving Big Grand Cay. The crash site was later found two miles off Grand Cay, according to the AP.
Authorities did not immediately identify the victims by name. Delvin Major, the chief investigator of the Bahamian Air Accident Investigations Department, said the victims were being taken Thursday night to Grand Bahama for identification, The New York Times reported.
Officials continue to investigate the crash.
Original report: Billionaire West Virginia coal magnate Chris Cline and as many as six others died in a helicopter crash in the ocean off the Bahamas on Thursday as the group was returning to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, according to news reports.
West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice called Cline, 60, a “close friend” and said West Virginia “lost a superstar.”
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.— Governor Jim Justice (@WVGovernor) July 5, 2019
The helicopter was registered to a Cline business address, WPTV reported.
Reports indicate one of this two daughters and several friends were also on the helicopter.
There’s no word yet on what may have caused the crash.
Thoughts and prayers for the family of Chris Cline and for the Marshall Community. https://t.co/K3iI6JOJbK— Sydney Wells Shelton (@SportsGirlSyd) July 5, 2019
According to Cline’s biography, he’s the founder of Foresight Energy and has more than 35 years experience in the coal industry.
“Beginning his career as a contract miner in southern West Virginia, Mr. Cline has developed and operated over 25 coal mining, processing and transportation facilities in the Appalachian Region and the Illinois Basin, including some of the most productive long wall mining operations in the country. Today, Mr. Cline controls more than three billion tons of coal reserves in Illinois and Central Appalachia,” his bio said.
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