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American killed in helicopter crash at Bahamas luxury resort

By Neil Hartnell

NASSAU (Reuters) - One American was killed and as many as four people were injured after 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 CBS television news Miami affiliate identified one of the survivors as Jeffrey Soffer, hotel heir and head of the Miami-based Turnberry Associates, one of the country's leading property firms, owners of the famed but financially troubled Fontainebleau resort in Miami Beach as well as condominiums in Las Vegas, the Bahamas and Washington D.C.

Soffer has been romantically linked with Australian supermodel Elle Macpherson.

The names of the other people on the helicopter have not yet been released by authorities.

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, and three passengers were flung from the chopper. The co-pilot was killed by the blades, and the pilot suffered major injuries. The three passengers have all been flown back to the United States by private jet.

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.

(Writing by David Adams; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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