Three LSU grads killed in Bahamas helicopter crash
NASSAU, Bahamas - Three recent LSU graduates were among seven people killed when a helicopter went down in the Bahamas Thursday.
The aircraft belonged to Chris Cline, a billionaire coal mining entrepreneur from West Virginia. USA Today reports the helicopter crashed off Grand Cay Island on its way to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Sources say the group was trying to come home because one of the girls got sick but never made it back.
Royal Bahamas Police Force state the helicopter went missing after taking off from the Big Grand Cay. The helicopter was then found two miles off Grand Cay near islands that Cline owned.
The Air Accident Investigation Department of the Bahamas said a specialized ship was coming from Florida with equipment to pull the helicopter from the water, the Associated Press reports.
Three of victims were invited as 2019 LSU graduates and alumnae of the Phi Mu sorority. Those three were identified by the sorority as Jillian Clark, Brittney Searson and Kameron Cline, who is Chris Cline's daughter.
The sorority released the following statement Friday afternoon.
“I can confirm that three of the people, Jillian Clark, Kameron Cline and Brittney Searson, who perished in a helicopter accident on Thursday, July 4, were young Phi Mu alumnae from the Alpha Eta Chapter at Louisiana State University. Our sympathies are with their families, friends and Phi Mu chapter sisters.”
LSU also released a statement Friday afternoon:
“The LSU community is mourning the loss of three recent graduates, along with all of those who lost their lives in this tragic accident. Kameron, Jillian and Brittney were all May 2019 graduates and had such bright futures ahead of them. Our deepest sympathies go out to the family and friends of everyone affected. This is a sad day for all of us.”
A vigil is planned for 7:30 p.m. Saturday for friends and local family.
The Herald-Dispatch reports Cline was also killed along with passengers David Jude, Delaney Wykle and an unidentified helicopter mechanic from Florida.
The Cline family released its own statement later Friday afternoon.
“We are all so deeply saddened to announce the deaths of our beloved father Chris and our sister Kameron. 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.”
President Donald Trump has also expressed his condolences.
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. The great people of West Virginia will never forget them!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 6, 2019
Aviation safety investigators in the Bahamas are working to determine the cause of the crash.