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Jeffrey Soffer, South Florida property mogul, survives Bahamas helicopter crash

Bahamian officials said Thursday a helicopter had crashed at an upscale Bahamas resort, killing one U.S. citizen and injuring at four others.

One of the injured was Jeffrey Soffer, owner of the iconic Fontainebleau hotel in Miami Beach, a source close to his family told The Miami Herald. Soffer also is a principal in Turnberry Associates, a major South Florida real-estate developer and property manager.

Renardo Curry, a member of the Bahamian Parliament for North Abaco, said the helicopter was trying to land at the exclusive Baker’s Bay Golf & Ocean Club on Great Guana Cay when a gust of wind sent the aircraft spiraling when it was about 10 feet above the ground.

An employee of the resort community said he helped residents pull people out of the wreckage. He described the crash as a “nightmare.”

“They got into an air pocket and it went into a tailspin. It recovered, and then it went into a tailspin again and from there it hit the ground. The tail came off and the cabin just went into a spin and somebody got thrown out,” said the Baker’s Bay employee, who insisted on not being quoted by name.

Soffer walked off the helicopter after the crash, banged and bruised but with no serious injuries, according to the family source. He was flown back to South Florida by airplane and taken to the University of Miami Hospital, where he was being evaluated.

The person who died was the helicopter’s owner. a businessman who lived in the Bahamas and had no South Florida connections, the Soffer family source said.

The others on the helicopter were the pilot and a person who works with Soffer, the source said.

They were going to the resort for Thanksgiving. Members of the Soffer family have frequently spent Thanksgiving in the Bahamas.

Baker’s Bay is a playground for millionaires about 150 miles off the Florida coast. It includes an oceanfront golf course, a private family beach club and boutique shops.

There were roughly 180 people on the island property for Thanksgiving, the resort employee said.

“Everyone who was there in one way or another helped out,” said Abaco Police Superintendent Noel Curry.