Sometime early on the Fourth of July, the small helicopter carrying billionaire coal tycoon Chris Cline, his daughter Kameron Cline and five others smashed into the ocean off the coast of the Bahamas, en route to Florida.
All seven passengers were killed. The crash is under investigation.
“I still can’t believe it,” Greg Cline, Chris’ older brother, told The Palm Beach Post on Friday. “It’s like a dream … We were so close, all of us were.”
In a separate statement released to local TV station WSAZ, the Cline family confirmed their passing and spoke at length about the absence their deaths created in the world.
“We are all so deeply saddened … This loss will be felt by all those who had the privilege of having known them,” the family said of Chris and Kameron.
Chris, his family said, “was one of West Virginia’s strongest sons, an American original, full of grit, integrity, intelligence and humor, a testament that our hopes and dreams are achievable when we believe and commit ourselves to action.”
He was worth $1.8 billion, according to Forbes, having sold a $1.4 billion stake in his Foresight Energy in 2015. A West Virginia native, Chris, 60, began working in the state’s coal mines at age 22, according to CNN. He later founded the Cline Group and Foresight.
Daughter Kameron, had recently graduated from Louisiana State University, her uncle Greg told the Post. She was 22, according to The New York Times.
Greg described her as “a sweet person,” and the family’s statement remembered her as “a bright light to all who knew her, loving, smart, compassionate and full of joy and enthusiasm for life and other people.”
Father and daughter left a “legacy of love and inspiration,” the family’s statement continued. “[It] will live on through all of us. We love and miss them dearly but take comfort knowing they are with God now.
“We ask for prayers and privacy in our time of grieving.”
Joining Chris and Kameron was Brittney Searson, a friend, former classmate and roommate of Kameron’s, according to the Post, who spoke with her mother.
She was “a leader, strong, smart girl, beautiful,” Kimberly Searson said.
The group was in the Bahamas for vacation for the holiday, according to Kimberly. Brittney and Kameron were close, Kimberly said, and Brittney traveled often with the Clines.
They were returning to Florida because of a possible illness, according to the Beckley Register-Herald, citing friends’ accounts.
The other victims have not yet been identified.
According to the Post, the Clines’ helicopter left Big Grand Cay, a private island estate in the Bahamas, between midnight and 2 a.m. on Thursday. But it apparently went down almost immediately after and was found about a mile into the Atlantic Ocean off of Grand Cay.
The crash was first reported to authorities about 5 p.m. Thursday, according to Times.
In addition to his work in mining, Chris was a major Republican donor and philanthropist. He would have turned 61 on Friday, the Times reported.
He “gave to anybody that needed anything.” brother Greg told the Post, adding, “He always knew what to do.”
Source: Read Full Article