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The US election is under a week away, and the ballot is set to be one of the most contentious in recent US history. Currently, Joe Biden of the Democrats leads the incumbent President Trump in the polls. However, a handful of swing states could tip the result in Mr Trump’s favour should voters in undecided states such as Florida, Texas and Georgia among others, lend their vote to the Republicans on the day.
Mr Trump’s securing a second term in office, many have noted, is surely miles away from what the former businessman had plans for when starting out in his career.
Entering the world of real estate, Mr Trump worked within his father’s ‘Trump Organisation’.
While Fred Trump focused on residential properties in the Brooklyn area of New York, Mr Trump moved his attention to the glitz and glamour of Midtown Manhattan, one of the city’s most exclusive areas.
Profit in tow, he soon turned to building a casino empire in the gambling capital of the eastern coast, Atlantic City.
A series of events eventually led to the downfall of his casino monopoly, of which included Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino and Trump Taj Mahal – both now shut.
The first event was tragic; when five of Mr Trump’s employees returning to Atlantic City from New York died after their helicopter crashed on October 10, 1989.
Three of the five were top executives at Mr Trump’s Atlantic City casino empire – the men who helped the casinos rake in fortunes.
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Reports soon emerged that Mr Trump himself had originally intended to take the helicopter.
The billionaire had, therefore, had a close brush with death.
One of Mr Trump’s close former casino employees, Jack O’Donnell, described the event to the Channel 4 documentary ‘Trump: An American Dream’ as “about the most vivid day of my life”.
He said: “They (the deceased) were here one second and they were gone the next.
“That is a shocking thing.
“I could sense that he (Mr Trump) was in a state of shock, disbelief.
“The thing that winds up standing out to me, of course, is, you know, he made the comment to me, right then, that he almost got on that helicopter.
“He said, ‘I could’ve been on that helicopter.'”
Pronounced dead at the scene was 43-year-old Steven Hyde – the CEO of Trump’s casino operations, considered a vital asset to the business.
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In an interview with CNN at the time, Mr Trump said: “They left my office and said ‘we’ll call you in an hour.’
“They were supposed to take my helicopter, but they didn’t want to wait for two hours because mine was coming back.
“So they rented a helicopter from an outside company that probably didn’t know what they were doing.”
In the years since, charges have been made against Mr Trump’s claims to it having been a “50/50” chance of him boarding the helicopter.
In 2019, former Trump Organisation official, Barbara Res, who was previously the company’s vice-president of construction, told MSNBC that he had fabricated the story.
She claimed it was a “total, total lie” promoted by Mr Trump himself.
Ms Res alleged: “It wasn’t very long after the crash that he was putting out the word that he was supposed to be on that plane or that helicopter, and he didn’t at the last minute, he got pulled off the plane.
“In other words, he’d be dead now.
“Making news, making himself a part of the story, a very important story, and undermining the fact that three people died.”
Mr O’Donnell later on in the documentary also questioned the legitimacy of the claims.
He said: “The helicopter was a charter, right? I mean if Donald Trump was going to come to Atlantic City, he would get on his own helicopter.
“And then of course he said it in the press: Donald Trump almost gets on the helicopter, you know, that crashed.
“He could have been on there too, and there was a need for attention.
“It was interesting, shocking to some extent – it was a new piece of information about Donald Trump’s personality for me.”
Much of the claims that Mr Trump was about to board the helicopter either came from himself during interviews or “sources”.
For example, an October 12, 1989 edition of the Schenectady Gazette attributed “sources” as having said Mr Trump was “too busy” to board the flight back to Atlantic City.
At the time, Trump Organisation spokesman, Dan Klores, told the Philadelphia Inquirer that Mr Trump “doesn’t want to talk about it, but he was going to go to Atlantic City and he did change his mind”.
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