Kameron Cline, who has been named in news reports as the billionaire’s daughter who died in a helicopter crash with her dad, two of her sorority sisters and another friend, was a recent graduate of Louisiana State University.
On Facebook, Kameron’s photos captured a carefree life of beaches and friends. NOLA.com is now reporting that Jillian Clark, who was in a LSU sorority with Kameron Cline, was among the victims. According to the Advocate, Brittney Searson, another sorority sister, was also on the fatal flight. Delaney Wykle, another friend, of West Virginia, also perished on the helicopter. Among those lost was David Jude, a talented golfer who was the pilot.
Kameron, 22, was the younger daughter of Chris Cline, the billionaire coal magnate and philanthropist with West Virginia roots. Chris Cline and his daughter died in a helicopter in the Bahamas with five other people, his brother told the Palm Beach Post. Authorities have not formally named the victims, however.
The doomed helicopter was discovered “overturned in about 16 feet of water off Grand Cay,” according to ABC 30.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Kameron Cline, Chris Cline’s Younger Daughter, Was Remembered as Compassionate & ‘Full of Joy’
Chris Cline’s brother, Greg Cline, confirmed to The Palm Beach Post that Kameron Cline was on the helicopter. The mother of her friend Brittney Searson confirmed that her daughter was on the chopper too, telling the Post that the group had gone to the Bahamas for the Fourth of July. She said Kameron and Brittney were roommates and friends who both graduated from LSU.
“We are all so deeply saddened to announce the deaths of our beloved father Chris and our sister Kameron,” Cline’s family said in a statement. “This loss will be felt by all those who had the privilege of having known them. Chris was one of West Virginia’s strongest sons, an American original, full of grit, integrity, intelligence and humor, a testament that our hopes and dreams are achievable when we believe and commit ourselves to action. Our sister, Kameron was a bright light to all who knew her, loving, smart, compassionate and full of joy and enthusiasm for life and other people. Their legacy of love and inspiration will live on through all of us. We love and miss them dearly but take comfort knowing they are with God now. We ask for prayers and privacy in our time of grieving.”
According to EOnline, Chris Cline, who was married twice, has two sons and two daughters. Forbes reports that Cline’s four children are all adults.
His first wife was named Sabrina, and she died of cancer in 1987. His second wife was named Kelly, and they were married from 1993 to 2000. In addition to Kameron Cline, he has a daughter named Candice Cline Kenan and two sons named Christopher and Alex. An obituary for Sabrina’s father indicates that only Candice was Sabrina’s daughter with Chris Cline.
Cline’s second wife now goes by the name Kelly Cline Fama, according to online records.
Cline’s older daughter, who was not on the helicopter, goes by the name Candice Cline Kenan. On Facebook, she says that she “studied Real estate at University of Georgia,” “lives in Charleston, South Carolina,” and is from Beckley, West Virginia. At the time of her wedding, she was described as the director of a private foundation (she’s listed here as running the Cline Family Foundation.)
Chris Cline later dated Tiger Woods’ ex Elin Nordegren.
“My deepest sympathies go out to the family and friends of great businessman and energy expert Chris Cline, his wonderful daughter, Kameron, and their friends, on the tragic accident which took place in the Bahamas,” President Donald Trump wrote. “The great people of West Virginia will never forget them!”
It appears that Kameron had taken a group of three friends with her (Brittney, Jill and Delaney) to a group of islands her dad owned in the Bahamas for the Fourth of July.
Paul Wykle, Delaney’s father, told the Palm Beach Post that his daughter was friends with Kameron and had just earned a nursing degree from West Virginia University. “She passed her boards on Tuesday,” Paul Wykle said to the newspaper, “and died on Thursday.” He added that he believed his daughter went on the helicopter to help a person who was ill.
Friends remembered Delaney. “Prayers for the Wykle family. We lost one of our best friends today and it still doesn’t seem real. She had the sweetest soul and had so much life ahead of her. We love you and will never forget our time spent together sweet girl ❤️❤️” wrote one. “RIP to you all this is so sad…. RIP Delaney Wykle you were such a good person and so beautiful,” another wrote.
2. Kameron Graduated From the Benjamin School & LSU & Was Remembered as a ‘Sweet Person’
Kameron Cline wrote on Facebook that she went to The Benjamin School, lived in West Palm Beach, Florida, and was from Beckley, West Virginia. She was a 2019 graduate of LSU and was in a sorority.
Greg Cline, Chris’s brother, told the Palm Beach Post that Kameron was “a sweet person.” Brittney’s mother told the Palm Beach Post that her daughter “traveled the world with the Cline family.”
Friends are mourning the three sorority sisters who died on the helicopter. Madelyn Andries wrote: “Kameron, Jill, and Brit were three of the best people that I had the honor to call my best friends. Come join us to celebrate their lives.” She shared news of a candlelight vigil.
West Virginia state Sen. Sue Cline also identified Kameron Cline as the daughter killed. She wrote on Twitter, “Prayers for Family and friends of my great friend Chris Cline and his daughter Cameron and her dear friends who we loss today in a helicopter crash . Chris was a exceptional human being and we all loved him so much . Such a loss for all 7 aboard today . Our hearts are broken.” (Chris’s daughter’s name was spelled Kameron, though.)
Another of those lost on the helicopter, Jillian Clark, was also listed as a 2019 LSU graduate, and was identified as a crash victim by family friends to NOLA.com. A well-known local volleyball player, Clark was also in a LSU sorority with Kameron Cline, the site reported.
Mount Carmel coach April Hagadone told NOLA.com that Clark was “a beautiful girl in the inside and out.”
Searson’s mother told the Palm Beach Post that her daughter was a “leader, strong, smart girl, beautiful.” She said the group had gone to the Bahamas for the July 4 holiday. Brittney’s photos on Facebook showed her on beaches and out with friends.
3. Kameron Cline Liked Wakeboarding & Filled Her Facebook Page With Pictures Showing Her on Beaches
Cline’s younger daughter, Kameron, wrote on Facebook that she liked wakeboarding. Kameron’s Instagram account is privatized.
According to Forbes, Chris Cline was worth an estimated $1.8 billion. His coal mining company went public in 2014, netting him $1.4 billion, and he opened a mine in Nova Scotia in 2017, according to Forbes. The magazine reports that Cline used some of his money to buy a Lamborghini “and a 200-foot yacht called Mine Games.”
Kameron’s father’s money led to a carefree life, at least as captured in her visible Facebook pictures, which indicate that she enjoyed excursions to white-sand beaches with friends. Many of her pictures show her in swimming suits or dressed up for nights out with friends.
She posted photos on Facebook showing her with the other crash victim, Brittney Searson.
“Kimberly Searson, mother of Brittney Layne Searson, confirmed today that her daughter is one of the seven passengers who passed away tragically on July 5, 2019 when the helicopter they were travelling in crashed into the Atlantic Ocean during a flight from Grand Cay Island to Fort Lauderdale.
Brittney L. Searson was a 2019 graduate of Louisiana State University and member of Phi Mu sorority, earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Kinesiology. She graduated from The Benjamin School in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. in 2015. She began dancing at age 3 and had a true love for the art of dance. She danced at several studios in South Florida including Peggy Brown’s, Absolute Dance, and Vantage Pointe, and she was on The Benjamin School Dazzler Dance Team. She is survived by her mother Kimberly, father Wayne Searson and brother Shane Searson.”
“Our hearts are shattered at the loss of our beautiful daughter Brittney Layne Searson. Brittney was an amazing girl – full of life, love, and adventure,” the family said. “She was smart, courageous, beautiful inside and out, and a born leader. She touched everyone who had the privilege of meeting her with her loving spirit. We will never know what was in store for the next chapter of her life, but whatever she did, she would have worked hard and strove for success. The ripple of loss for so many lives is immeasurable. Our family grieves deeply with all other victims of this tragedy and asks for your prayers and privacy as we lay our beloved daughter to rest.”
4. Kameron Cline Was the Recipient of a Family Trust
A United States Securities and Exchange Commission document for Foresight Energy LP lists Cline’s children in referencing various trusts. It mentions Kameron N. Cline as being the recipient of a trust.
For starters, there was the Alex T. Cline 2017 Irrevocable Trust, “the beneficiary of which is Alex T. Cline, a child of Mr. Cline,” and “The Candice Cline Kenan 2017 Irrevocable Trust, the beneficiary of which is Candice Cline Kenan, a child of Mr. Cline.” The document says there is also a “Christopher L. Cline 2017 Irrevocable Trust, the beneficiary of which is Christopher L. Cline, a child of Mr. Cline” and the “Kameron N. Cline 2017 Irrevocable Trust, the beneficiary of which is Kameron N. Cline, a child of Mr. Cline.”
Chris Cline made his fortune in coal mining. His website bio explains, “Chris Cline is the founder of Foresight Energy. Mr. Cline has more than 35 years experience in the coal industry.”
According to the 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.”
The biography added that Cline “developed and/or operated over 25 coal mining, processing and transportation operations in the Appalachian Region and the Illinois Basin” and “Controls more than three billion tons of coal reserves in Illinois and Central Appalachia.”
5. Seven People Perished When the Helicopter Went Down Just Minutes After Taking Off
According to AP, the chopper went down two miles from private islands that Cline owned called Big Grand Cay.
The Register-Herald reported that friends told the newspaper that those on board were Cline, “David Jude, one of Cline’s daughters, two young adults from Beckley, unidentified friends and an unidentified helicopter mechanic from Florida.” That newspaper is local to Beckley, West Virginia, where Cline – once dubbed “New King Coal” – was from. The Herald-Dispatch named another of the victims as Delaney Wykle (Wykle, who studied at West Virginia University, is friends with the four Cline siblings on Facebook.)
The Bahamas Press also wrote: “We confirm Cline’s daughter, David Jude, Delaney Wykle, two unidentified friends and an unidentified helicopter mechanic from Florida are among the victims.” Authorities have not formally released any victims’ names, though. Old Facebook posts show Jude had gone on trips to exotic destinations with another one of Cline’s daughters in the past.
Specifically, the chopper went down near Walker’s Cay, Abaco, and is believed to have crashed shortly after taking off. Horrifically, Minister of Tourism and Aviation Dionisio D’Aguilar told the Register-Herald: “We’ve located the craft. It seems as if the seven passengers are still onboard so therefore submerged, but we can’t confirm anything yet.”
Jim Justice, the governor of West Virginia, where Cline was from, confirmed the news in a tweet, writing, “Today we lost a WV superstar and I lost a very close friend. Our families go back to the beginning of the Cline empire – Pioneer Fuel. Chris Cline built an empire and on every occasion was always there to give. What a wonderful, loving, and giving man.”
According to WPTV, the cause of the helicopter crash is not clear. Although Cline was a West Virginia native, he had a home in West Palm Beach.
The crash was also confirmed by a Bahamian official, The Palm Beach Post reported. Bahamian Air Accident Investigation Department Chief Investigator Delvin Major said the helicopter crashed between Grand Cay and Fort Lauderdale, killing seven people on board, according to the newspaper, which added that a friend says the helicopter may have been traveling from the Bahamas to Fort Lauderdale because someone on board was ill. News reports now say that person was Kameron but haven’t revealed the nature of the illness.
Officials told a Bahamian newspaper that the timeline of the crash was still unclear. The crash occurred only minutes after takeoff.
According to the Register-Herald, though, the officials did not confirm the identities of those on the helicopter, although they said all seven were Americans. According to the AP, authorities have now taken the bodies from the helicopter to work on formally making identifications, saying three men and four women were on board. Authorities said they don’t think a distress call was made and the helicopter remained in the water, AP reported.
Brenton Southern Baptist Church wrote on Facebook: “Unfortunately we have confirmed by the family that Chris Cline was in a helicopter crash very early in the morning near the Bahamas. There are reports of several others aboard the helicopter including his younger daughter. Chris was one of the twelve charter members of our church when it began nearly 50 years ago. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family. We will post more as it develops.”