Oklahoma's heartfelt response to McClendon's death

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Aubrey McClendon's mixed legacy

No matter what critics may think about Aubrey McClendon's legacy as the former CEO of Chesapeake Energy, he was widely respected and deeply loved by fellow Oklahomans.

Condolences poured in following the death of the 56-year-old energy executive in a fiery single-car crash Wednesday, a day after he was charged with conspiring to rig bids for oil and natural gas leases.

Many Oklahomans took to social media to display their heartfelt appreciation for his accomplishments. Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett praised McClendon for his contributions to a broad range of causes.

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McClendon's influence was felt throughout Oklahoma City, where he was a part owner of the National Basketball Association's Oklahoma City Thunder. The team plays its home games at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Thunder Chairman Clayton I. Bennett also echoed the sentiments of others in the community, saying he was a "passionate member of the Thunder family."

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McClendon — a key player in the U.S. shale boom — co-founded Chesapeake in 1989 and stepped down from the company in 2013. Chesapeake is the second-largest natural gas producer in the United States. He also founded American Energy Partners, where he had been chief executive.

"Aubrey's tremendous leadership, vision and passion for the energy industry had an impact on the community, the country and the world. We are tremendously proud of his legacy and will continue to work hard to live up to the unmatched standards he set for excellence and integrity," American Energy Partners said in a statement.

Chesapeake said in a statement that it is "deeply saddened by the news" and its "thoughts and prayers are with the McClendon family during this difficult time."

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Not only were people stunned by the antitrust charges brought against him, but they were also shocked by the way in which McClendon died.

Two hours before he was expected to surrender, McClendon's SUV crashed into an embankment while traveling at high speed in Oklahoma City, police said. Flames engulfed McClendon's vehicle immediately. Police determined McClendon was not wearing a seatbelt.

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Aubrey McClendon, former Chief Executive Officer, Chairman, and Co-founder of Chesapeake Energy Corporation.
Police: McClendon crashed traveling at 'high rate of speed'
Ex-Chesapeake Energy CEO indicted on conspiracy charges

Despite the alleged conspiracy charges he faced, McClendon vehemently defended his record. On Tuesday, he insisted he had not committed any crime.

"Anyone who knows me, my business record and the industry in which I have worked for 35 years, knows that I could not be guilty of violating any antitrust laws," he said in a statement.

Oklahoma City-based Continental Resources said McClendon not only "transformed (the) industry, but also helped transform Oklahoma City into a world-class city."

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— CNBC's Jacob Pramuk contributed to this report.