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Pilot from Minnesota among 6 killed in Malaysian helicopter crash


An Anoka, Minnesota, native was among six people killed in a helicopter crash in Malaysia over the weekend.

Clifford Fournier, 47, was flying the helicopter near Kuala Lumpur when it crashed Saturday, KARE 11 reports.

Two top Malaysian officials were also killed in the crash: Azlin Alias, chief of staff to Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, and former ambassador to the United States Jamaluddin Jarjis, Bloomberg says.

Jarjis' bodyguard Razakan Seran and operations assistant Aidana Baizieva and Tan Huat Seang were among the other victims, the publication notes.

The helicopter was believed to have been returning from Razak's daughter's wedding reception when it crashed, the Sydney Morning Herald notes.

A witness told the Star newspaper they saw the helicopter explode before crashing.

Razak said Sunday that "no stone will be left unturned" to determine the cause of the crash that came during a bitter power struggle in Malaysia's ruling United Malays National Organization (UMNO), the Sydney Morning Herald says. Officials have urged people not to speculate until the investigation is complete.

Investigators have recovered the helicopter's black box and cockpit voice recorder, according to the Malaysian Insider.

Fournier described as 'one heck of a pilot'

Chris Webb, a pilot with Minnesota Helicopters in Blaine, told KARE 11 Fournier was a "gentle giant" and "one heck of a pilot."

Fournier moved to California after graduating high school and joined the Marine Corps. Fifteen years ago he bought a helicopter company in Malaysia, KARE 11 says.

He is listed as the director and senior pilot of Solaire, a premier helicopter service provider. He was also known as a trusted source for people who were interested in buying helicopters in Asia, the Malay Mail Online reports.

Star newspaper says Fournier has over 13 years of helicopter flying experience. Friends told Malay Mail Online that he was a "good pilot" and a great man.

He is survived by a wife and four children, KARE 11 notes.

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