Christopher Cline, a West Virginia coal billionaire and philanthropist, was one of seven people who died Thursday July 4 2019 when a helicopter crashed off Grand Cay island in the Bahamas.
The chopper was on the way to Fort Lauderdale. His daughter Kameron Cline was also killed in the crash Thursday, his attorney, Brian Glasser, told Bloomberg News.
The trip was meant to celebrate Independence Day and was taken by several of Kameron’s friends, including Brittney Searson, a classmate both at The Benjamin School in Palm Beach Gardens and Louisiana State University, The Palm Beach Post reported
Searson and Cline graduated from the Baton Rouge university in May. Another childhood friend, Delaney Wykle, as well as Phi Mu sorority sister Jillian Clarke died, said The Advocate of New Orleans.
Cline, who would have turned 61 on Friday, had a home in Seminole Landing between North Palm Beach and Juno Beach, according to The Palm Beach Post.
According to Foresight Energy’s web page, Cline, who was born in Beckley, West Virginia, on July 5, 1958, began his career in the coal industry in 1980 at the age of 22.
He had followed his grandfather and later his father, Paul Cline, into the coal industry, first as an underground coal miner in southern West Virginia. By the mid-1980s he started developing and operating mines, preparation plants, loading docks and coal sales arms.
He formed his energy development group and coal supplier the Cline Group, in 1990, in the Appalachian region.
According to Cline’s bio on the company page, Cline Group’s operations in the Appalachian region put Cline Group among the 20 top coal producers in the United States, with an annual production capacity of about 10 million tons.
In 2003, the Cline Group sold its mature mining and processing concerns in Appalachia and shifted its focus to coal reserves in the Illinois Basin, and began acquiring reserves, according to Foresight’s website.
Cline founded Foresight Energy in 2006 as a joint venture with Murray Energy Corp. to develop and operate the company’s Illinois mining assets.
Cline studied psychology at West Virginia’s Marshall University in Huntington in the late 1970s. He later helped support his alma mater. His Chris Cline Foundation donated $5 million to Marshall University for sports medicine research in July 2011. A $5 million donation in May 2011 to West Virginia University created the Christopher Cline Chair in Orthopaedic Surgery and helped fund a new basketball practice facility
Cline was a regular GOP donor, contributing $1.3 million to federal campaigns during the 2016 elections. In 2015, he donated $1 million to a super PAC that supported former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s unsuccessful presidential campaign
In addition to his daughter Kameron, Cline had another daughter, Candice Cline Kenan, and two sons, Christopher and Alex. His first wife, Sabrina Cline, died of breast cancer in 1987. His second marriage, to Kelly Cline, ended in divorce in 2000.