Accident investigators in the Bahamas go far below the surface of the water to find out what went wrong in the moments before the crash of a helicopter after the launch and death of seven people, including West Virginia coal magnate Chris Cline.
The Bahamas Aircraft Accident Investigation Department said via Twitter late Friday that salvage teams were performing "underwater surveying and debris field mapping". The unit said the operation had been underway since the crash of the Augusta AW139 chopper that crashed Thursday in the waters off Grand Cay to Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
The authorities said it was too early to draw conclusions cause of the crash. They do not think an emergency call was made and they did not start looking until after the police got a message from Florida that Cline and the others had not arrived in Fort Lauderdale as expected.
The killers included Cline's 22-year-old daughter, Kameron, and three of her close friends: Brittney Layne Searson, Jillian Clark, and Delaney Wykle. Searson, Clark and Cameron Cline were recently graduates of Louisiana State University. Wykle recently graduated from West Virginia University.
Paula Wykle, Delaney's mother, said she saw her daughter for about three hours after she passed her nurses on Tuesday. Then Delaney "went to the Bahamas to meet her best friend from childhood", Cameron Cline, whom she had not seen for about a year.
"She wanted to start work in August, and we told her," This is your last chance to go before you become an adult, "her mother said.
Wykle said Delaney Wykle wanted to be there to help when one of the vacationers got sick and had to be taken back to the mainland. So she landed in the helicopter.
"She had to nurse for a day," Wykle said, calling her daughter "smart, loving, and one of the best friends one could wish for."
The Wykle family is from Beckley, West Virginia.
F. King Alexander, president of Louisiana State University, expressed his condolences to all accident victims and their families.
"The LSU community is mourning the loss of three graduates who have recently lost their lives and those who died in this tragic accident." Kameron, Jillian and Brittney were all graduates of May 2019 and had such a bright future, "said Alexander.
The Searson family asked for privacy in a statement in which she said that her heart had been shattered at the loss of our beautiful daughter. "She had a lifelong passion for dance and just graduated in kinesiology."
Brad Ullman, managing director of the West Virginia Golf Association, confirmed that David Jude was also killed in the crash, the association said in a Facebook post. Jew is a "great ambassador of the game."
Bahamas Police Supt. Shanta Knowles announced on Saturday that Geoffrey Painter of Barnstaple was also killed in the UK, and confirmed the identity of the other victims to the Associated Press.
The Department of Aircraft Accident Investigation in the Bahamas said investigators are supported by the National Road Safety Department, Federal Aviation Administration, aircraft and engine manufacturers, and other authorities.
"Once our team is on-site, it collects data, conducts witness interviews , examines and photographs the wreck before it's set up in Berlin Florida will be transported for further analysis and documentation, "said the department. "We will also review the maintenance history of the aircraft, review weather information, operating policies, regulations and the operation of the aircraft."
On Friday, Chris Cline's death led to eulogies by top hard coal mining officials, described by government officials and academics as a visionary, who generously bypassed his $ 1.8 billion in assets.
Cline began working in the mines of Southwest Virginia at a young age and quickly rose to the ranks of his father's firm before founding his own energy development company, The Cline Group, which became one of the largest coal producers in the country.
He raised a fortune and became a major Republican giver.
This story was corrected to show Delaney Wykle was recently graduated from the West Virginia University and corrected the spelling of the name of Geoffrey Painter .
Journalist Chevel Johnson contributed to or from New Orleans. Natalie Schachar reported from Mexico City and Travis Loller from Nashville, Tennessee.