Trump donor killed in helicopter crash in Bahamas

  06 July 2019    Read: 885
Trump donor killed in helicopter crash in Bahamas

A billionaire coal baron who donated $1m (£798,505) to Donald Trump’s inaugural committee was among seven Americans killed in a helicopter crash on Thursday, officials said.

Chris Cline, who reportedly would have turned 62 on Friday, and six others died as the helicopter was returning to Florida from the Bahamas.

West Virginia Governor Jim Justice confirmed Mr Cline was among those killed in the crash on Twitter, writing in a statement: “Today we lost a WV superstar and I lost a very close friend.”

“Chris Cline built an empire and on every occasion was always there to give,” the governor added. “What a wonderful, loving, and giving man.”

Among those killed was one of Mr Cline’s daughters, West Virginia’s Register-Herald newspaper said, citing unnamed friends of Mr Cline.

The helicopter reportedly went down shortly after takeoff in the Atlantic Ocean early Thursday near Walker’s Cay, the northernmost island in the Bahamas.

The group was travelling back to Ft Lauderdale, Florida, from the Bahamas for the Fourth of July holiday.

Forbes listed Mr Cline at number 1,281 on its billionaires list with an estimated net worth of $1.8bn (£1.4bn), listing him as self-made.

Before donating to Mr Trump’s inaugural committee, he contributed to Jeb Bush’s 2016 presidential campaign.

He started working in the coal mines aged 15 and later dropped out of Marshall University, Forbes said.

A major business breakthrough came in the early 2000s when he reportedly bought up high-sulphur coal reserves in Illinois, gambling that improved technology would make it more economical to burn dirty fuel.

Mr Cline took coal mining firm Foresight Energy public in 2014, and sold a controlling stake in 2015 for $1.4bn (£1.1bn) cash.

More about: Bahamas