It will likely be a long time before the world knows exactly what caused the helicopter crash that killed billionaire coal magnate Christopher Cline, his daughter and five others. The aircraft took off from Cline’s private island, Big Grand Cay in the Bahamas, shortly before 2 a.m. on July 4, with plans to fly to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to get medical treatment for two unspecified passengers.
Cline’s 22-year-old daughter, Kameron Cline, was on board, along with three of her friends, a pilot and one other crew member. Minutes after taking off the helicopter crashed into the ocean, killing everyone on board.
A long investigation
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is now leading the investigation into the cause of the crash. While the NTSB released some preliminary details about a month afterward, a spokesperson for the agency told the Palm Beach Post it will likely take more than a year to determine a final likely cause of the wreck.
Crews recovered much of the aircraft about 1.2 nautical miles away from where it departed. They found the helicopter upside down in about 16 feet of water, broken into pieces. They will examine the recovered airframe, engines, flight controls, seats and restraints. The helicopter also had a flight recorder, ground proximity warning system and several additional components investigators will try to glean information from.
Was somebody liable for the crash?
One potential question that may be answered through the investigation is, who, if anyone, may have been at fault for the crash? It’s very possible this was just a tragic accident that could not be avoided. But there is also a chance negligence may be a factor, whether human error, a defective product, unrepaired equipment or something else.
These are all possibilities the investigation will likely dig into. It might mean many questions for any parties involved in the crash. According to the Palm Beach Post’s report:
- The helicopter itself was built in Italy
- The engine was manufactured in Canada
- The pilot and second crew member operated a helicopter company based in Florida
These companies, and possibly more, could get brought into the investigation as it unfolds.
Nobody should assign blame where it isn’t due, however. Many people might jump to conclusions, or try to connect dots that aren’t there. A strong legal team may be able to help any person or organization touched by this investigation navigate whatever legal questions come their way.
This was a tragic case. While it is important investigators determine what happened, it’s also vital nobody begins to indiscriminately ascribe blame.