One person was killed and four other were injured in a helicopter crash at a Bahamas resort Thursday, news reports indicate. Among the injured was Jeffrey Soffer, a Miami, Florida businessman and luxury hotel owner. The man who died was not identified in reports, though records indicate that he was a Bahamian native. The other three injured parties were also left unidentified. The exact details surrounding the crash are unknown, and an investigation is ongoing. So far, sources suggest that a strong wind may have been behind the accident. It is not yet known whether a mechanical defect or human error may have been factors.
Reports say Soffer is the owner of the Fontainebleau hotel, a luxurious and iconic Miami Beach resort. He also sits on a board for Turnberry Associates, on of South Florida’s top real estate businesses. He sustained non-life threatening injuries and paramedics rushed him to the University of Miami Hospital in South Florida. It is not clear whether he will be pursuing any damages.
According to reports, Soffer was staying at the Baker’s Bay Golf & Ocean Club in Great Guana Cay during his trip to the islands with family and friends as a novel way to celebrate Thanksgiving. The resort features amenities such as private beach clubs, golf courses, and luxury shops. Sometime Thursday, Soffer was aboard the club’s helicopter, which was supposed to land at a site near the resort.
As the helicopter descended to about 10 feet above the ground, a strong gust of wind apparently sent it reeling. The helicopter then proceeded to crash against the ground. A witness on the scene described the accident, saying, “They got into an air pocket and went into a tailspin. It recovered, and then it went into a tailspin again. From there it hit the ground. The tail came off and the cabin just went into a spin and somebody got thrown out.” The person that was reportedly thrown from the aerial vehicle was not identified in public reports. After the wreck, resort employees and guests worked together to free the survivors from the twisted metal of the helicopter, reports say.
In other news, pedestrian Lawrence Schopler of Hollywood, Florida was killed Wednesday when he tried to cross Interstate 95, reports indicate. Schopler, 56, was hit by three cars and was pronounced dead at the scene. All three drivers remained at the scene following the incident. An investigation is ongoing and no one has yet been charged with a crime.
Reports say the accident occurred around 4:00 Wednesday morning along a stretch of I-95 near Stirling Road in Broward County. For reason not yet known, Schopler attempted to cross the darkened road and was struck by three northbound vehicles. So far, investigators believe the dark roadway conditions led to the fatal accident. A portion of I-95 was closed down for nearly 5 hours while the FHP cleared the scene.
A spokesperson from the FHP said in a report, “We know that there was a single vehicle crash that occurred where a vehicle hit the median wall… subsequently, we know that a male attempted to cross the northbound lanes of I-95 and was subsequently struck by three vehicles.”