BECKLEY, W.Va. — Several hundred people gathered for an evening vigil in Raleigh County Thursday to remember the victims of last week’s helicopter crash in the Bahamas, which claimed the lives of coal industry executive Chris Cline, his daughter and five others.
Among those who spoke at the event was Cline’s cousin, Steve Dewese, who described Cline as determined and strong-willed at an early age, without being brash.
“He wasn’t a big personality. He was like a bulldog. If he wanted something, he would bust his tail until he got there and he got it,” Dewese said.
“If he would have seen people calling him a coal baron and a coal tycoon, he would never refer to himself that way. If you walked in a room with Chris, you would never know that guy had done this much and was that successful. He never flaunted it in people’s faces. He would lean up against the wall and just talk to whoever wanted to talk.”
Cline’s daughter, Kameron, and her friend, Delaney Wykle, were on board the helicopter that crashed while transporting Kameron to Florida due to an undisclosed medical emergency.
Brent Osborne, a friend of the victims, spoke of Wykle’s nursing background and her compassion.
“She got to take care of her best friend, in her final minutes, and she wouldn’t have rather done anything else. The biggest takeaway from Delaney — and she was the same from pre-K all the way through college — she was going to care of you, and it didn’t matter if you were a stranger on the street or if you were her closest friend,” he said. “She was going to take care of you.”
The ceremony took place at the Beckley YMCA’s Paul Cline Memorial Sports Complex, which is named after Chris Cline’s late father. Several speakers at Thursday’s event noted that Chris Cline’s generosity was essential to making the sporting grounds complex a reality.
More recently, the Cline Family Foundation pledged $10 million for a new YMCA indoor sports center for the city, where Cline had been a resident for several years.
A memorial service will be held for Chris and Kameron Cline Friday at the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center, beginning at 5 p.m.
Delaney Wykle’s funeral will be held in the Woodrow Wilson High School Auditorium Sunday, starting at 2 p.m.