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Bahamas helicopter crash kills American; property magnate survives

NASSAU, Bahamas -- One American was killed and four people were injured when a helicopter crashed near an exclusive resort in the Bahamas on Thursday afternoon, according to local police.

The helicopter went down at Baker's Bay Golf and Ocean Club on Great Guana Cay in the Abacos island chain, according to Superintendent Noel Curry at the Marsh Harbour police station.

The Miami Herald identified one of the survivors as Jeffrey Soffer, head of the Miami-based Turnberry Associates, a leading property firm. Turnberry owns the famed but financially troubled Fontainebleau resort in Miami Beach as well as condominiums in Las Vegas, the Bahamas and Washington D.C.

The newspaper reported that, according to a Soffer family source, the person who died was the helicopter’s owner, a businessman who lived in the Bahamas, and the others on board were an unidentified woman, the pilot and a person who works with Soffer. They were headed to the Bahamas for Thanksgiving. Authorities did not identify any of the victims.

The Herald, citing the family source, said Soffer walked away from crash with bruises but no serious injuries. The three passengers were flown back to the United States by private jet, Reuters reported. The Herald reported that the Soffer family source said Soffer was taken to the University of Miami Hospital for evaluation. 

The helicopter was attempting to land when it was buffeted by a wind gust and the pilot lost control, according to the Nassau Guardian newspaper.

Eyewitnesses said the helicopter's rotor blades hit the ground near the Baker's Bay townhomes. The co-pilot was killed by the blades, and the pilot suffered serious injuries.

The Bahamian Minister of Transport and Aviation, Glenys Hanna-Martin, said a full investigation into the crash was being launched.

Baker's Bay is a luxury resort about 150 miles off Florida's southeast coast with an oceanfront golf course and private beach club, according to its website.

This article includes reporting by Reuters.

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