Coal Billionaire Chris Cline And Six Others Died In A Helicopter Crash Over July 4th Weekend — What Happened?

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Who Is Chris Cline? New Details On The Coal Billionaire And The Helicopter Crash That Killed 7 — Including His Daughter

On Thursday, July 4th, a helicopter carrying seven people took off from the Bahamas en route to Florida. It never made it. The helicopter went down not long after take-off, killing all on board. Among those on the flight was Chris Cline, a coal billionaire from West Virginia. The 60-year-old had been visiting Grand Cay, an island in the Bahamas with some friends, his 22-year-old daughter Kameron, and a couple of her friends. The helicopter was heading to Fort Lauderdale. It went down near a group of islands Cline owned. All six passengers were American. The pilot was from the UK. Who was Chris Cline? 

1. He's from West Virginia

Chris Cline grew up in Beckley, West Virginia and started working in the state's coal mines at 15. He briefly attended Marshall University, but dropped out. He was married twice and has four children. He was married to wife Sabrina until she died of cancer in 1987. His second wife's name was Kelly and they were married from 1993 to 2000. Chris and Sabrina had three children: Christopher, Alex and Kameron. Chris and Kelly had one child, Candice. 

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2. Cline Group and Foresight Energy

Cline became an underground miner in 1980, when he was 22. He founded his own energy development company, the Cline Group in 1990. In the early 2000s, he had a feeling  new technology would make coal, traditional considered a dirty fuel, cleaner to burn, so he bought a bunch of high sulfur coal reserves in Illinois. In 2006, he founded Foresight Energy to manage his Illinois Basin coal rights. He took Foresight Energy public on the New York Stock Exchange in 2014. In 2015, he sold most of his shares of Foresight for $1.4 billion. According to his bio on the company's website Cline began his career: "as a contract miner in southern West Virginia, Mr. Cline has developed and operated over 25 coal mining, processing and transportation facilities in the Appalachian Region and the Illinois Basin, including some of the most productive long wall mining operations in the country. Today, Mr. Cline controls more than three billion tons of coal reserves in Illinois and Central Appalachia.”

3. He dated Elin Nordegren

Chris Cline was Tiger Woods' ex-wife first serious romance after her divorce. The two began dating in 2011. They met after Nordegren bought a $12 million mansion in Florida right next door to one of Cline's many homes. The couple kept their relationship mostly private. They went to Haiti in 2012 together on a church mission trip, which is thought to have kicked off Elin's now long career in charity and volunteer work. The couple broke up in 2014. 

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4. He was a major Republican donor

Initially, Cline, a Republican, supported Jeb Bush's candidacy for President. He donated heavily to Donald Trump's campaign as well as other Republicans. Cline donated $1 million to the president's inaugural committee in 2017. He donated to conservative groups as well as committees representing Mitch McConnell and Marco Rubio. 

Amy Lamare is a Los Angeles based freelance writer covering entertainment, pop culture, beauty, fashion, fitness, technology, and the intersection of technology, business, and philanthropy. She is deeply devoted to her chocolate Labrador and an avid long distance runner. You can find her on Instagram and Facebook.