A former Minnesotan was killed Saturday in a helicopter crash in Malaysia, according to the country’s news agency Bernama and several other published news accounts.
Anoka native Clifford W. Fournier, 47, was flying the helicopter near Kuala Lumpur when it apparently exploded before crashing on a rubber plantation.
Two top Malaysian officials also were killed in the wreck: the chief of staff to Malaysia’s prime minister, and the country’s special envoy and former ambassador to the United States. Three others were also aboard and died.
The helicopter was returning from a wedding reception for the daughter of Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak. A report in the Star newspaper in Malaysia said the crash happened during a heavy downpour, and cited an eyewitness that said he heard two explosions, one in midair.
Razak told reporters Sunday that all bodies had been recovered and “no stone will be left unturned” to determine the cause of the crash.
Fournier is listed as the director and senior pilot of Solaire, a premier helicopter service provider in business since 2000, according to its website.
He left Minnesota after graduating from high school, joined the Marine Corps, and moved to Malaysia about 15 years ago, according to news accounts.
The Malay Mail newspaper reported that Fournier is survived by a wife, three daughters, and a 14-month-old son in Malaysia.
Investigators recovered the helicopter’s black box and cockpit voice recorder, and are sending them to London for analysis, according to another newspaper in the area.