W.Va. coal billionaire Cline killed in helicopter crash

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.

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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.”

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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.

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