Researchers in the Bahamas said they recovered a helicopter that crashed after taking off from a remote private island on July 4, killing coal billionaire Chris Cline and six other Americans, as well as a British citizen.
The Aircraft Accident Investigation Department of the Bahamas indicated on its website that a Florida-based contractor rescued the Agusta AW139 helicopter from the ocean on Saturday night.
The helicopter is expected to be taken to Fort Lauderdale and then to an accident investigation facility in Fort Pierce, Florida.
Authorities say it is too early to draw conclusions about the cause of the accident. They do not believe that an emergency call was made, they only started looking after the police received a report from Florida that the helicopter had not arrived in Fort Lauderdale as expected.
Among those killed is also Cline’s 22-year-old daughter, Kameron, and three of her closest friends: Brittney Layne Searson, Jillian Clark, and Delaney Wykle.
Searson, Clark and Kameron Cline recently graduated from Louisiana State University. Wykle graduated from the University of West Virginia.
Brad Ullman, executive director of the West Virginia Golf Association, confirmed that David Jude also died in the accident.
Bahamas Police Superintendent Shanta Knowles said Saturday that Geoffrey Painter of Barnstaple, UK, also died, and confirmed the identities of the other victims to the Associated Press.
Cline began working in the mines south of West Virginia when he was young, rising up in his father’s company quickly before forming his own energy development business, the Cline Group, which grew to become one of the major coal producers in the country.
He amassed a fortune and became a major Republican donor. Paula Wykle, Delaney’s mother, said her daughter had passed the nursing tests and when one of the people on vacation got sick and needed to be transported back to the mainland, Delaney Wykle said she wanted to be there to help. “She only practiced nursing for a day,” Wykle said, adding that her daughter was “smart, loving, and one of the best friends someone could ask for.”
The Accident Investigation Department also indicated that it was interviewing witnesses on Big Grand Cay, the island owned by Cline. The department said that the National Transportation Safety Board, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Italian Safety Board and the helicopter and engine manufacturers will provide assistance in the investigation.