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Billionaire Chris Cline among 7 killed in helicopter crash off the Bahamas

Coal tycoon killed in Bahamas chopper crash

A helicopter crashed off the Bahamas Thursday, killing all seven people on board, a Bahamian official confirmed to CBS News. The aircraft had departed from Grand Cay island and was heading to Fort Lauderdale, said Capt. Delvin Major, the Aviation Safety Inspector and Air Accident Investigator with the Bahamas Civil Aviation Department.

The Associated Press reported all seven people on board were Americans. All the bodies were being transported to Freeport, the main city on Grand Bahama.

Bahamian police did not provide a cause of the crash but said an investigation with civil aviation authorities was underway. Major said his agency was working with a lot of entities in the investigation. 

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice tweeted that one of the victims was Chris Cline, who the Register-Herald newspaper in Beckley, West Virginia, described as a  "billionaire mining entrepreneur," ''coal tycoon" and "benefactor to southern West Virginia." 

"Today we lost a WV superstar and I lost a very close friend," Justice tweeted. "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."

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Billionaire Chris Cline in undated photo provided by his alma mater, Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia; Cline was killed in a helicopter crash off the Bahamas on the 4th of July, 2019 Marshall University

Cline went to Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia. The school's president, Jerome A. "Jerry" Gilbert, issued a statement saying, "The entire Marshall community is in disbelief and shock over the sad news of this tragic accident that took the life of a prominent Son of Marshall and so many others. Our hearts are heavy. Chris's generosity to our research and athletics programs has made a mark on Marshall University and our students for many years to come. I am praying for his family."