President Donald Trump has paid tribute to the billionaire who died on Thursday with his daughter, three of her friends and two others in a helicopter crash in the Bahamas.
The group was in the chopper to Florida because the man who donated $1million to Trump’s inaugural committee was accompanying his daughter Kameron, 22, who had suffered a medical emergency, it was reported Friday. It is not clear exactly what the medical issue was.
New images showed the 17-seat Augusta Westland AW-1339 underwater following the 2am incident that has prompted the American leader to speak out.
‘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,’ Trump tweeted on Friday. ‘The great people of West Virginia will never forget them!’
Cline had donated to Jeb Bush’s committee prior to coughing up funds for the fellow billionaire in 2016.
A designer employee for Cline, Lauree Simmons, told WPBF 25 on Friday that Kameron took ill and had to be rushed to the hospital which is why they left.
Other friends said they were celebrating a birthday on the private island. Cline would have turned 61 on Friday.
The business man owns a mansion in Seminole Landing near Juno Beach.
In 2017, the 2008 model aircraft was registered to Cline’s Palm Beach Gardens company, Challenger Management.
Aircraft manufacturer, Leonardo, and twin engine company Pratt & Whitney will assist an investigation led by the Federal Aviation Authority, National Transportation Safety Administration, and Bahamas Police Marine Unit and Support Team.
The family of Cline said in a statement to DailyMail.com on Friday: ‘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.
‘Chris 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.
‘Our sister, Kameron was a bright light to all who knew her, loving, smart, compassionate and full of joy and enthusiasm for life and other people. Their legacy of love and inspiration 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.’
The father and daughter were flying from the Bahamas to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, when their aircraft plummeted in the early hours of Thursday morning. It remains unclear what caused the crash but all seven people on board died.
Brittney Searson, 21, and Jill Clarke, Kameron’s friends who graduated from Louisiana State University with her in May, were also on board as was David Jude, one of Cline’s friends from West Virginia.
As well as the Phi Mu sorority sisters, West Virginia University graduate, Delaney Wykle, 22, was also on board.
There was one more man on board who has not yet been identified and it is unconfirmed who was flying the helicopter.
According to local officials, they took off from Big Grand Cay Island at around 2am and crashed near Grand Cay.
The pilot made no formal request to fly, they said, and it is unclear if there was a mayday signal.
As news of the crash spread on Friday, local politicians and businessmen paid tribute to Cline as generous and hardworking.
The billionaire’s brother said on Friday that the family was in a state of disbelief.
‘I still can’t believe it. It’s like a dream … We were so close, all of us were,’ Greg Cline told The Palm Beach Post.
Searson’s mother Kimberly said her daughter traveled the world with the Cline family and that she and Kameron were best friends.
She described her daughter Brittney as ‘a leader, strong, smart’ and ‘beautiful’.
Kameron’s uncle Greg said she was a ‘sweet person’. He said the family rarely got time to spend together but that they cherished it when they did.
Cline often traveled to Palm Beach County where his ex-wife and some of his four children live.
His brother added that he would have given ‘to anybody that needed anything’ and that he ‘always knew what to do.’
The coal tycoon would have turned 61 Friday. He previously dated Tiger Woods’ ex Elin Nordegren.
Authorities in the Bahamas are now investigating what caused the crash.
Cline’s death was announced on Twitter by West Virginia Governor Jim Justice who paid tribute to him.
Cline was the founder of Foresight Energy, the company that has grown into a coal mining empire.
In 2015, he sold most of his stake in the publicly traded company for $1.4billion, according to Forbes. He died with an estimated net worth of $1.8billion.
Cline was married twice and had two sons and two daughters.
His first wife, Sabrina, died of breast cancer in 1987. He remarried in 1993 and then divorced seven years later.
‘What he accomplished in the coal mining industry was nothing short of amazing,’ said Gary White, a former coal company president, said of Cline on Thursday.
Cline attended Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia before dropping out at the age of 22 to go into the coal business.
He donated money to the university, which released a statement expressing sorrow over his death.
Cline first founded the Cline Group in 1990. The company operated a number of underground coal mines across the country. In 2003, Cline Group sold its interests in mining and process in Appalachia to focus on new mines in the Illinois Basin.
In 2006, he founded Foresight Energy, which relied on renewed interest in high sulfur and high Btu coal.
His success earned him the nickname ‘New King Coal.’