Former billionaire Aubrey McClendon died today after a fiery, one-car crash in Oklahoma. He left behind a wife and three adult children. The former CEO of Chesapeake Energy was just indicted yesterday on charges that he rigged oil bids. He was schedule to appear in court later today, prompting many to wonder if his crash was a suicide.
Here’s what you need to know.
Law Enforcement Officials Said It Looked Like He Drove Straight Into a Wall
McClendon crashed and died in a fiery car wreck in Oklahoma City, KFOR reported. The one-car wreck happened early on Wednesday morning, but his identity was not released until later in the day. Capt. Paco Balderrama said that McClendon was traveling well over the posted speed limit. He was driving at a “high rate of speed.”
Officials are still investigating the wreck, but said that it appeared McClendon died instantly. Officials that it appeared that he drove out of his lane and straight into the wall of a bridge, but they didn’t say exactly what caused this to happen. Balderrama said:
He pretty much drove straight into the wall. … He went left of center, went through a grassy area right before colliding into the embankment. There was plenty of opportunity for him to correct and get back on the roadway and that didn’t occur.”
McClendon’s car exploded and was engulfed in flames shortly after it hit the wall. It didn’t appear that McClendon tried to stop. He also wasn’t wearing a seatbelt, CNBC reported. A “medical event” was possibly the cause of the crash, but police don’t yet know the exact cause of death.
There Is No News of a Suicide Note or any Indication that the Crash Was Planned
TMZ is already reporting that this is an “apparent suicide.” McClendon was scheduled to appear in court about his indictment later today. Since law enforcement has not released an official cause of the crash, at this point, the wreck could have also been a mechanical malfunction of some sort or just a terrible, tragic accident.
McClendon’s indictment came following years of a relationship with his former company, Chesapeake Energy, that had turned acrimonious. He had founded the company and built it to be worth $35 billion, before later being forced out after saddling it with debt. He started a competing company and was sued for theft of secrets. The new indictment that McClendon faces alleges that while he was CEO of Chesapeake, he orchestrated an anti-trust conspiracy between two oil-and-gas companies. Although the indictment doesn’t name either company, Chesapeake has publicly said that it won’t face prosecution because it’s shield under an act that protects companies who first report anti-trust violations. Is it possible that Chesapeake turned in its own founder? (To learn more about the whole, complex situation, please read this story.)
Many are speculating that McClendon committed suicide, since his indictment could carry up to 10 years in jail. However, there’s been no word of any suicide note left behind or any known indication that McClendon was considering taking his own life. For now, we will have to wait on an official word from law enforcement.