Chris Cline, a billionaire coal executive out of West Virginia and Elin Nordegren's ex, has died following a helicopter accident near the Bahamas on July 4. Cline, a noted philanthropist and political donor to both Jeb Bush and Donald Trump, was one of seven who perished in the crash that was traveling back to Florida.
Police confirmed 7 Americans were killed in a helicopter crash on July 4th in the Bahamas. The aircraft went down about two miles from Grand Cay Island, killing everyone on board. The victims include billionaire coal tycoon and philanthropist Chris Cline.@DavidBegnaud reports. pic.twitter.com/12IgIqh2TI— CBS This Morning (@CBSThisMorning) July 5, 2019
Cline passed a day before his 61st birthday, confirmed by West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice in a statement on social media.
"Today we lost a WV superstar and I lost a very close friend," Justice wrote on social media. "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."
Cline was not married at the time of his death, but made some headlines due to his connection to Tiger Woods' ex-wife Elin Nordegren. The pair were seen dating back in 2013 but reportedly had a rocky relationship due to their conflicting schedules according to RadarOnline.
Chris Cline, a billionaire entrepreneur, philanthropist and political donor once called the “King of Coal,” died in what news reports said was a helicopter crash in the Bahamas https://t.co/mTr4IGftD0— The New York Times (@nytimes) July 5, 2019
"Elin was introduced to Chris by a local friend because they seem to have a lot in common. They both have children, like to keep their personal lives quiet, believe in philanthropy, and enjoy leisure outdoor activity," a source told PEOPLE at the time. "They have a nice casual relationship that has blossomed into a romance. Elin is very impressed with him. She thinks he is a cool guy."
Their relationship reportedly lasted for years in an on again, off again status. It was the first notable relationship for the former model following her intense divorce from Woods.
Cline made his billions by "revamping" the coal industry in Illinois according to Fox News. He was born in West Virginia and began working as a coal miner at the age of 22, living in a town of only 200 residents. Later he founded the Cline Group to mine in Appalachia before joining with Robery Murray's Murray Energy Corp to move into Illinois and Missouri, pushing to a $2.6 billion worth.0comments
Cline donated $5 million to alma mater Marshall University to grow its sports medicine program and also donated to WVU with a similar focus. His political support also saw money go to both President Trump's inaugural committee, following a support for Jeb Bush during the 2016 campaign.
The billionaire's daughter, Kamie Conover, was also one of the victims in the crash. Other victims include David Jude, Delaney Wykle, two unidentified passengers, and a helicopter mechanic.