Chris Cline, America’s ‘King of Coal’ killed in helicopter crash

Chris Cline, America’s “King of Coal”,  has been killed in a helicopter accident near the Bahamas.

Mr Cline, 61, the founder of Foresight Energy, one of America’s largest coal companies, was among seven people who died when the helicopter crashed en-route from the Bahamas to Fort Lauderdale in Florida.

A billionaire philanthropist and  major Republican donor, in the 2016 election, Mr Cline gave $1 million to Jeb Bush’s political action committee.

He later donated $1 million to Donald Trump’s inauguration.

Mr Cline’s death was confirmed by Jim Justice, West Virginia’s governor on Twitter.

“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,” he wrote. 

Known as “the King of Coal”, Mr Cline started working as a miner in 1980, following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather who worked underground.

Ten years later he founded an energy development company, the Cline Group.

Then in 2006, he founded the St Louis, Missouri-based Foresight Energy which at its peak was worth $2.6 billion (£2.1 billion).

In West Virginia, Mr Cline was known for his philanthropy, including donating several million dollars to his alma mater, Marshall University, where an athletics complex was named after him.

According to the Royal Bahamas Police Force, Mr Cline’s helicopter took off from Big Grand Cay around 2am on Thursday and was reported missing 50 minutes later when it failed to arrive at its destination.

The overturned helicopter was later discovered in Walker’s Bay in the Abaco Islands, about two miles from its departure point.

Police in the Bahamas, who said four women and three men, died in the crash, did not name the victims.

However, quoting family members, the Palm Beach Post, named two of the other fatalities as Mr Kline’s youngest daughter, Kameron and her friend, Brittney Searson.

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