“Today we lost a WV superstar and I lost a very close friend,” Gov. Jim Justice wrote on Twitter. ” … Chris Cline built an empire and on every occasion was always there to give. What a wonderful, loving and giving man.”
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
Seven people are believed dead, the Royal Bahamas Police Force said in a statement Friday. The RBPF did not identify any of the victims.
Police said a helicopter took off from Big Grand Cay around 2 a.m. Thursday and was reported missing around 2:50 p.m. when it didn’t arrive in Fort Lauderdale, its intended destination.
Police officers and residents of Grand Cay discovered the aircraft overturned in 16 feet of water about two miles off Grand Cay in the Abacos and recovered the bodies of four females and three males, police said.
The Department of Civil Aviation, the Royal Bahamas Police and the Defense Force are investigating.
— Forbes (@Forbes) July 5, 2019
Cline’s daughter Kameron Kline was one of the people on the aircraft, according to the Brenton Southern Baptist Church, which said it confirmed that fact with family members.
Chris Cline was one of the charter members when the church started, it said in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family. We will post more as it develops,” the church said.
Family members later confirmed that Kameron Kline died in the crash. The 22-year-old had recently graduated from Louisiana State University.
“We are all so deeply saddened to announce the deaths of our beloved father Chris and our sister Kameron. This loss will be felt by all those who had the privilege of having known them,” family members said in a statement sent to news outlets.
“This loss will be felt by all those who had the privilege of having known them.”
— WPTV (@WPTV) July 5, 2019
The president also reacted to the news, along with other political leaders.
“My deepest sympathies go out to the family and friends of great businessman and energy expert Chris Cline, his wonderful daughter, Kameron, and their friends, on the tragic accident which took place in the Bahamas. The great people of West Virginia will never forget them!” President Trump wrote on Twitter late Friday.
My deepest sympathies go out to the family and friends of great businessman and energy expert Chris Cline, his wonderful daughter, Kameron, and their friends, on the tragic accident which took place in the Bahamas. The great people of West Virginia will never forget them!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 6, 2019
Evan Jenkins, a justice at the West Virginia Supreme Court, said the state had lost a philanthropist who donated to several programs.
“His selfless and generous support for programs and projects throughout the state improved the lives of countless West Virginians,” he said in a statement. “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.
Cline, a native of Beckley, went to Marshall University and donated millions of dollars to the school. In 2014, the university dedicated an athletic complex named after Cline.
From a Family of Coal Miners
Cline grew up in a coal family—his father and grandfather worked at mines.
He started working as an underground miner in West Virginia in 1980 at age 22, and a decade later founded his energy development company, the Cline Group.
His experience, proactive approach to mine development, and the strength of his team enabled him to capitalize on opportunities others missed, his company Foresight Energy said on its website.
“The Cline Group was soon recognized across the industry as a reliable coal supplier, an excellent lessee, and a desired employer committed to the health and safety of its miners—characteristics that continue to drive its success today,” it said.
Cline Group operated underground coal mines in the country for several years before starting Foresight Energy to focus on Illinois mining.
Foresight Energy generated coal sales revenues of $1.097 billion last fiscal year, it said on its website.
NTD reporter Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.