UPDATE | Memorial service for Chris Cline and daughter after deadly helicopter crash
Thousands have gathered in West Virginia to say goodbye to billionaire coal executive Chris Cline and his daughter, Kameron Cline, who were killed last week in a helicopter crash.
Cline's attorney and longtime friend, Brian Glasser, delivered a eulogy at Friday's memorial service in Beckley, saying Cline's plans sometimes failed but that he didn't get caught up in the failure and just kept moving forward.
Glasser spokesman Joe Carey said Gov. Jim Justice, West Virginia University basketball coach Bob Huggins, WVU President Gordon Gee and Marshall University President Jerome Gilbert were among those attending the service at the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center.
A memorial service is underway in Raleigh County for a West Virginia native who died in a helicopter crash.
Chris Cline, a billionaire who built a coal empire and a reputation for charitable giving, died July 4. His daughter, Kameron Cline, 22, was also killed. Seven people were on board and died in the accident.
Cline, who grew up in Beckley, was 60.
A remembrance event for Chris and Kameron began at 5 p.m. Friday at the Raleigh County Armory Civic Center in Beckley.
A prayer vigil was held Thursday for the victims at the YMCA Paul Cline Memorial Sports complex Thursday, just one week after the accident. The Memorial Sports Complex was named after Chris Cline's late father, Paul Cline.
"This is our opportunity to come together and grieve together and mourn together," said Richard Jarrell, the event organizer. "To hear stories and really hear about the legacies these folks are leaving behind."
The vigil was held in honor of all the victims, two of which were coal entrepreneur, Chris Cline, and his 22-year-old daughter, Kameron Cline.
"Chris' legacy is that he never forgot about Southern West Virginia," said Jarrell, "This is where he grew up and this is where he was raised and it was important to him."
There will also be a remembrance event for Chris and Kameron Cline that will take place Friday, July 12 at the Raleigh County Armory Civic Center in Beckley. The service will begin at 5 p.m.
The helicopter, as well as the black box system, has been recovered.
At this time, the black box is being sent to Washington for testing to see what could have caused the crash that killed seven people over the Fourth of July holiday, including West Virginia billionaire Chris Cline and his daughter, Kameron.
One of the victims of the helicopter crash that killed seven people in the Bahamas was 22-year-old Delaney Wykle.
Her mother, Paula Wykle, says her daughter had just passed her nursing boards on Tuesday before traveling to the Bahamas to be with her childhood best friend, Kameron Cline. Wykle says that when one of the party got sick and needed to be transported back to the mainland, Delaney Wykle wanted to be there to help.
Wykle says her daughter was "smart, loving, and one of the best friends anyone could ever ask for." She had just graduated from West Virginia University with a nursing degree and was planning to start work in August.
Kameron Cline is the daughter of billionaire Chris Cline. Both were also killed in the crash of the Augusta AW139 helicopter that was en route Thursday from the Bahamas to Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Another victim has been identified as Brittney Layne Searson, who was also a friend of Kameron's.
The Searson family issued a statement Saturday asking for privacy and expressing how their hearts have been "shattered at the loss of our beautiful daughter." She had just graduated from Louisiana State University with a degree in kinesiology.
She is survived by her mother, Kimberly; her father, Wayne; and a brother, Shane.
The family of a West Virginia native who died in a helicopter crash released a statement, and President Donald Trump tweeted his condolences Friday night.
Chris Cline, who grew up in Beckley, West Virginia, was 60 years old. He would have been 61 Friday.
Cline and his daughter Kameron are among seven people who died when a helicopter crashed into the Atlantic Ocean Thursday. It was en route to Fort Lauderdale from the Bahamas.
His family released the following statement to WSAZ:
Cline grew up in a West Virginia coal mining family and dropped out of Marshall University at 22 to enter the coal industry. He formed his energy development group, the Cline Group, in 1990. It developed and operated some of the most productive underground coal mines in the country, and by 2010, an article in Bloomberg called him the “New King Coal.”
The billionaire built a coal empire and a reputation for charitable giving. He donated millions of dollars to Marshall and West Virginia University.
A West Virginia University spokesman released a statement Friday regarding the death of Chris Cline, a West Virginia native who was a WVU donor:
Cline, who grew up in Beckley and attended Marshall University, was 60 when he died in a helicopter crash near the Bahamas Thursday. He would have had his 61st birthday Friday.
Chris Cline, a West Virginia native who built a coal empire and a reputation for charitable giving, has died in a helicopter crash.
Cline, who grew up in Beckley, was 60. He would have had his 61st birthday on Friday.
Multiple sources reported his death. The Register-Herald newspaper in Beckley was among the first.
The helicopter was en route to Fort Lauderdale from the Bahamas, when it crashed into the Atlantic Ocean, Cline’s friends in Beckley told the newspaper.
Gov. Jim Justice, whose family has its own coal mining businesses, paid tribute. “Chris built an empire and on every occasion was always there to give,” the governor stated. “What a wonderful, loving and giving man.”
Cline, who grew up in a West Virginia coal mining family, dropped out of Marshall University at 22 to enter the coal industry.
He formed his energy development group, the Cline Group, in 1990. It developed and operated some of the most productive underground coal mines in the country.
In 2003, the Cline Group sold its mature mining and processing concerns in Appalachia to focus on new opportunities in the Illinois Basin.
Anticipating renewed interest in high sulfur, high Btu coal, Foresight Energy LLC was formed in 2006.
By 2010, an article in Bloomberg called him the “New King Coal.”
“As far as the social acceptability of coal, I like to think I’m part of supplying the cheapest energy in America,” he said in the article.
Cline’s company had more than three billion tons of coal reserves across Illinois and the Northern Appalachians.
In 2011, he donated $5 million from his Cline Family Foundation to the School of Medicine and the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics of the West Virginia University.
Later that year, he also donated $5 million to Marshall University for research on sports medicine.
On June 23, 2014, Foresight Energy LP completed an initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange.
Starting in April, 2015, Murray Energy acquired a economic interest in Foresight. After that, Cline was focusing on coal opportunities in Canada.
Cline’s wealth also led to a celebrity lifestyle.
He owned the 205-foot luxury yacht Mine Games, with five staterooms and its own submarine. He also had a 33,413-square-foot mansion in North Palm Beach, Florida.
His 150-acre property in Beckley featured a lake, a go-kart track and pastures for his horses, goats and llamas.
On August 20, 2012, aspiring actor Vivek Shah was arrested for the attempted extortion of Cline, Harvey Weinstein, and three others.