Seven Americans, including three recent LSU graduates and Phi Mu alumnae, died in a helicopter crash July 4 in the Bahamas, according to local authorities.
Kameron Cline, Jillian Clark and Brittney Searson were all recent University graduates before the fatal flight. The aircraft belonged to West Virginia coal mining billionaire Chris Cline, Kameron’s father, who also perished in the crash. The aircraft was headed to Fort Lauderdale from the Bahamas as a part of a Fourth of July vacation, according to media reports.
Authorities said the aircraft departed from Big Grand Cay sometime between midnight and 2 a.m. before it went missing and was found near islands that Chris owned. The bodies were taken to the capital in Nassau to be officially identified, according to Bahamian police superintendent Shanta Knowles.
Bahamian authorities on Friday said they were still investigating what may have caused the wreck. Police in the Bahamas said they then began searching for the helicopter when they learned Chris and the others had failed to arrive as expected in Fort Lauderdale. They discovered the aircraft had crashed near Big Grand Cay, and officials recovered the bodies of four women and three men.
Chris' friend, helicopter pilot David Jude, and an unidentified helicopter mechanic also died in the crash, media reports said. The family of Delaney Wykle, a childhood friend of Kameron, confirmed that she also died.
“The LSU community is mourning the loss of three recent graduates, along with all of those who lost their lives in this tragic accident," LSU President F. King Alexander said in a statement. "Kameron, Jillian and Brittney were all May 2019 graduates and had such bright futures ahead of them. Our deepest sympathies go out to the family and friends of everyone affected. This is a sad day for all of us.”
The Benjamin School in North Palm Beach, Florida, also released a statement mourning Kameron and Searson.
“Kameron and Brittney were remembered by teachers as best friends who remained close after graduating and going on to college together at Louisiana State University,” the statement said. “Kameron, 22, and Brittney, 21, were known as caring and humble students."
Searson, a Palm Beach native, majored in kinesiology and exercise science. According to her LinkedIn, she aspired to be a medical sales representative. Searson and Kameron were classmates at The Benjamin School in Palm Beach before enrolling at the University.
Clark was a graduate of Mount Carmel Academy in New Orleans where she played volleyball and helped the team earn two state titles as a setter. Clark was a captain during the run for the second of those titles and "was as important to the squad as quarterbacks are to successful football teams," Clark's coach told The Advocate.