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NTSB: Pilot error caused fatal helicopter crash in Bahamas that killed coal billionaire Chris Cline, 6 others

Cline's 22-year-old daughter among those killed
In this July 7, 2019 photo made available by the Bahamas Air Accident Investigation Department, the wreckage of a Augusta SPA helicopter is recovered off the coast of Grand Cay, in the Abacos, Bahamas. Coal billionaire Chris Cline and six other Americans died in the crash on July 4, 2019, as they were departing the Bahamas towards Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Posted at 6:22 PM, May 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-28 18:22:58-04

MIAMI — Federal officials say pilot error caused the helicopter crash that killed coal billionaire Chris Cline, a Palm Beach County resident, and six others in the Bahamas in 2019.

A National Transportation Safety Board released Thursday says the two pilots' decision to take off over water in dark night conditions with no external visual reference resulted in spatial disorientation and the subsequent crash off Big Grand Cay.

Chris Cline, a West Virginia native who built a coal empire and a reputation for charitable giving, was one of 7 people killed in a helicopter crash off the coast of the Bahamas.
Chris Cline, a West Virginia native who built a coal empire and a reputation for charitable giving, was one of 7 people killed in a helicopter crash off the coast of the Bahamas.

Killed in the July 2019 crash were Cline, the two pilots, Cline's 22-year-old daughter and three of her friends.

Investigators determined that the pilots were likely under external pressure from Cline.

His daughter and one of her friends were ill and Cline wanted them taken from his private island to a Florida hospital.