Helicopter Carrying Billionaire Chris Cline, His Daughter, and Five Others Crashed Just One Minute After Taking Off

The National Transportation Safety Board’s investigation into the helicopter crash that killed Palm Beach billionaire Chris Cline, his daughter and 5 others could take up to two years. (Krystel Knowles/AP)

The helicopter carrying billionaire coal tycoon Chris Cline, his daughter Kameron, and five others in the Bahamas was only up in the air for a minute before it spiraled out of control and crashed on the Fourth of July, according to the National Transportation Safety Board, who on Wednesday released a preliminary report in the ongoing investigation into the deadly crash.

Cline, 60, and his 22-year-old daughter, Kameron, were flying in the early hours of the morning from Cline’s private island Big Grand Cay to Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, at the time of the deadly crash.

“The purpose of the accident flight was to transport two of the passengers to FLL for medical treatment,” authorities said, without naming who had fallen ill (local reports have said Kameron had been experiencing an unspecified medical emergency).

Both got on board a 17-seat August AW139 aircraft, which had arrived from Palm Beach International Airport between 1:30 and 1:45 a.m. local time, the NTSB said. The chopper remained on the landing pad with the engines running while the passengers boarded.

One witness observed the helicopter take off and depart soon after, the NTSB reported. The witness said it climbed to about 30 to 40 feet and accelerated while in a nose-down attitude, a pattern he noted was not unusual.

Another witness, however, told authorities the rotorcraft had climbed between 40 and 50 feet before it spun out of control three or four times and plummeted into the ocean some 1.2 miles away.

That witness also reported hearing a “whoosh whoosh whoosh” sound before the helicopter crashed, the NSTB said. He suspected a crash and went out on his boat at around 2:05 a.m. to try to find the chopper, using spotlights to inspect the area, but was unable to locate it.

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SOURCE: PEOPLE, Dave Quinn