Fontainebleau Miami Beach owner Jeffrey Soffer, known for living life in the fast lane, has been released from the hospital after a Thanksgiving Day helicopter crash in the Bahamas that killed his friend.
Soffer, a principal of the Aventura-based developer Turnberry Associates, spent several days at Miami’s Ryder Trauma Center, where he was treated for multiple injuries including a fractured vertebrae.
Also treated for multiple injuries at Ryder were Dan and Paula Riordan, who were onboard the helicopter when it crashed, said Alex Krys, president and chief operating officer of Turnberry. Dan Riordan is president of Turnberry’s residential division.
The crash resulted in the death of a close Soffer friend, identified by the New York Post as Lance Valdez, a tax lawyer and the founder of Pioneer Capital, moved to the Bahamas with his wife and three children several years ago.
“Jeff is currently under doctor's care being treated for multiple injuries and mourning the loss of his friend," said his sister Jackie Soffer, a Turnberry principal.
The helicopter was attempting to land after a flight from Marsh Harbour to Baker’s Bay when the crash occurred about 1 p.m. Thanksgiving Day, Krys said. Access to the luxury resort community on Great Guana Gay is limited to helicopter and boat.
Witnesses said a gust of wind sent the helicopter into a spin and the tail came off as the helicopter hit the ground.
Valdez died at the scene. The pilot, whose name was not released, was airlifted to Nassau where he is being treated.
Philip Romer, aviation safety inspector with the Bahamas Department of Civil Aviation, said the crash remains under investigation.
“We can’t speculate until we get all the facts in hand,” Romer said.
Bahamian investigators completed an examination of the crash site on Friday and moved the wreckage to a secure site, according to a government press release. The Air Accident Investigation Prevention Unit is conducting analysis and testing to determine the cause, Bahamian officials said.
While the Bahamian government is leading the investigation, the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board has been invited to participate in the investigation given the presence of U.S. citizens, said Bob Gretz, senior air safety investigator.
The Twin Star helicopter was owned by Pioneer Caribbean Logistics Limited and registered in the Bahamas, Gretz said.
The millionaires playground of Baker’s Bay is about 150 miles off the Florida coast. The resort includes a golf course, private beach club and boutique shops. Doctors and nurses who were resort guests helped treat accident victims on the scene.
Soffer and the Riordans were taken by boat to Marsh Harbour and then flown back to Miami on a plane owned by media mogul and racing-team owner Roger Penske.