CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Coal tycoon Chris Cline, who worked his way out of West Virginia’s underground mines to amass a fortune and become a major Republican donor, has died in a helicopter crash outside a string of islands he owned in the Bahamas.
Cline and his 22-year-old daughter Kameron were on board the aircraft with five others when it went down Thursday, a spokesman for his attorney Brian Glasser said Friday.
The death of the 60-year-old magnate led to eulogies from industry leaders, government officials and academics, who described Cline as a visionary who was generous with his $1.8 billion fortune.
“He was a very farsighted entrepreneur,” said Bill Raney, president of the West Virginia Coal Association.
“Chris was just one of those folks who had the Midas touch.”
Raney said Cline began toiling in the mines of southern West Virginia at a young age, rising through the ranks of his father’s company quickly with a reserved demeanor and savvy business moves.
He formed his own energy development business, the Cline Group, which grew into one of the country’s top coal producers.