Chris Cline First One That Came Out, Said Bahamian Who Worked For Him
By Ariel Zilber
July 7, 2019 - A Bahamian man who worked for billionaire coal magnate Chris Cline says he witnessed the harrowing moment divers removed his boss’s body from the Atlantic Ocean after the helicopter carrying him, his daughter, and five others crashed shortly after taking off from the Caribbean island.
‘Mr. Cline actually…was one of the first ones that came out,’ said Mathien McIntosh.
‘Just then, a kid came out. It was four kids and they were about 19 to 21 years of age, kids in their prime.
‘They had just graduated from college and came home to have fun and then boom; here today and gone tomorrow. It’s life.’
McIntosh said he and a relative watched as the helicopter took off and heard a ‘loud bang’ shortly afterward in the early morning hours of Thursday.
‘The night before, me and my brother-in-law, we watched the chopper come in,’ McIntosh told The Guardian, a local news outlet in the Bahamas, on Saturday.
McIntosh said he saw Cline and the other six passengers board the helicopter before it took off from Big Grand Cay, the Bahamian island which the West Virginia-born businessman bought.
‘We watched it land and in about half an hour it [went] back up.
‘As it [went] back up, it didn’t get very high. It went up and in about five minutes it just “boop”.
‘The light just disappeared and it was a loud crash. It was a loud bang in the water.
‘We jumped in our boats and we went searching.
‘This was about 2:30am and we went searching from about 2am to 4am, almost 5am, the next day.
‘Where it was so dark, we really couldn’t see anything because it was too dark so we called back to the island and they said, “No, no, no. The chopper is back in the states.”
‘So, I said ok, fine.’
Later on Thursday, however, local police said Cline’s helicopter was reported missing at around 2pm.
When it became apparent that the helicopter never landed in its destination, Fort Lauderdale, McIntosh returned to Big Grand Cay and informed his fellow employees about what happened to their boss.
‘Everybody just was in a daze,’ he said.
‘Man, it was just tears, you know? It was just tears.’
One of the divers told The Guardian that he and his son searched the crash site and saw the dead passengers inside the submerged helicopter.
‘[My son] put on his dive gears and he got into the water to identify what the object was,’ McGarrett Russell, a native of the island of Abaco, said.
‘He went down there and when he [came] up, he told us what he saw and it was sad.
‘He said he saw persons onboard. They all had on their seat belt, apparently intact.
‘My son said he had to take the pilot’s hand away from the controllers.
‘It was very hard because it was stiff [but] he said everybody was intact as if no one was even trying to loosen their seat belt and the doors [were] off.’
President Trump on Friday paid tribute to Cline, the billionaire who died on Thursday with his daughter, three of her friends and two others in the helicopter crash.
The group was in the chopper to Florida because the man who donated $1million to Trump's inaugural committee was accompanying his daughter Kameron, 22, who had suffered a medical emergency, it was reported Friday. It is not clear exactly what the medical issue was.
New images showed the 17-seat Augusta Westland AW-1339 underwater following the 2am incident that has prompted the American leader to speak out.
'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,' Trump tweeted on Friday. 'The great people of West Virginia will never forget them!'
Cline had donated to Jeb Bush's committee prior to coughing up funds for the fellow billionaire in 2016.
A designer employee for Cline, Lauree Simmons, told WPBF 25 on Friday that they were celebrating a birthday on the private island. Cline would have turned 61 on Friday.
The businessman owns a mansion in Seminole Landing near Juno Beach.
In 2017, the 2008 model aircraft was registered to Cline's Palm Beach Gardens company, Challenger Management.
Aircraft manufacturer, Leonardo, and twin engine company Pratt & Whitney will assist an investigation led by the Federal Aviation Authority, National Transportation Safety Administration, and Bahamas Police Marine Unit and Support Team.
The family of Cline said in a statement to DailyMail.com on Friday: '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.'