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NTSB releases preliminary report on Bahamas helicopter crash that killed 7

In this handout photo provided by the Bahamas ZNS Network, a recovery team stands by at the wreckage site where a helicopter carrying four women and three men, including billionaire coal entrepreneur Chris Cline and his daughter, crashed outside a string of islands Cline owned in the Bahamas, Friday, July 5, 2019. The bodies of the four women and three men were recovered and taken to the Bahamian capital of Nassau to be officially identified.
Posted at 3:54 PM, Jul 24, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-24 20:06:22-04

The National Transportation Safety Board has issued a preliminary report on the helicopter crash that killed seven people including billionaire Chris Cline, his daughter and her friend who were former students at The Benjamin School in North Palm Beach.

The crash, on July 4, 2019, happened one minute after takeoff from a concrete pad near Big Grand Cay, Abaco, Bahamas.

The aircraft was heading to Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport.

According to the NTSB, "the purpose of the flight was to transport two of the passengers to FLL for medical treatment."

The flight originated from Palm Beach International, traveled to Big Grand Cay and kept its engines running as the passengers boarded, according to the NTSB.

Investigators said a commercial pilot, airline transport pilot rated copilot, and five passengers were on board. Those killed included Cline, his 22-year-old daughter, Kameron, and three of her close friends: Brittney Layne Searson, Jillian Clark, and Delaney Wykle. David Jude and Geoffrey Painter were also killed.

Cline was described as a billionaire mining entrepreneur, coal tycoon, and benefactor to southern West Virginia who also owned a home in North Palm Beach.

A witness about one-and-a-half nautical miles from the accident site reported "seeing the helicopter lift off and climb to between 40 and 50 ft above ground level; then shortly thereafter, he noted blue and white lights spinning to the left at a rate of about 1 to 2 seconds between rotations while descending. He estimated that the helicopter rotated to the left three to four times. He then heard a "whoosh whoosh whoosh" sound, and lost sight of the helicopter, which was followed by the sound of an impact."

Flight and data recorders are still being analyzed.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.