All three bodies from Kennedy plane crash located
July 21, 1999
AQUINNAH, Massachusetts (CNN) -- The bodies of Carolyn Bessette Kennedy and her sister, Lauren Bessette, have been found off Martha's Vineyard. The news comes from the National Transportation Safety Board.
Divers operating under difficult conditions were attempting Wednesday to recover the body of John F. Kennedy Jr., which was found on the ocean floor off Martha's Vineyard.
His remains, first spotted overnight by a robotic underwater camera, were near a large piece of wreckage from the plane he was piloting to the Massachusetts island last Friday.
John F. Kennedy Jr.'s uncle, Sen. Edward Kennedy, was taken to the recovery scene at sea. He left the Kennedy family compound in Hyannisport, on Cape Cod, aboard a Coast Guard helicopter that took him to Martha's Vineyard. The senator completed the journey aboard a Coast Guard vessel.
He was accompanied by two of his sons -- Patrick, a Rhode Island congressman, and Edward Kennedy, Jr.
Recovery team leaders predicted it would take about three or four hours to search the immediate area around the wreckage, a senior government official in Washington told CNN. Divers entered the water about 10:30 a.m.
Once the body is recovered and brought to shore, an autopsy will be performed to determine the cause of death.
A large portion of the plane's fuselage was found about 11:30 p.m. Tuesday, the statement said. An NTSB source told CNN that Kennedy's body was found nearby about two hours later.
The sightings were made by an underwater camera on a small, unmanned submarine called an ROV (remote operated vehicle) from the USS Grasp, a Navy salvage vessel.
"The wreckage was found less than a half-mile from the prime point derived from radar data analysis," the joint statement said.
The ocean depth in that area of the Atlantic Ocean is about 115 feet. Visibility is only about six to eight feet. The water temperature is about 52 degrees Fahrenheit. Dives are limited to about 15 minutes.
Plans call for any body or bodies taken from the water to be brought to the surface before any of pieces of the plane are lifted onto the Grasp.
Wreckage was to be taken to a hangar at Otis Air National Guard Base on Cape Cod, which is being used as a command base for the search and recovery operation.
The White House was notified about 2:30 a.m.
Aides decided not to wake up President Clinton, who was informed of developments at 9:15 a.m., White House spokesman Joe Lockhart said.
The families of the victims also were informed quickly.
The Kennedy family is considering a memorial service -- possibly in New York -- for John Jr. and his wife, but no details have been announced.
The grim underwater discovery came as searchers using ship-based sonar equipment combed through waters off Martha's Vineyard, looking for wreckage of the single-engine Piper Saratoga II.
They focused on the "splashpoint" -- an area about seven miles from the southwestern tip of the Massachusetts island, where the plane is believed to have crashed into the ocean Friday night.
Using sonar readings, divers from Grasp and the Massachusetts State police had investigated several suspected wreckage sites this week before finding the plane and Kennedy's body.
The Washington Post reported Wednesday that Kennedy told acquaintances he was happy to fly solo after having a cast removed from his ankle the day before last Friday's flight.
Kennedy reportedly had felt the need to fly with a co-pilot since breaking his ankle in a paraglider crash three weeks earlier.
The Toronto Star reported Sunday that Kennedy used a co-pilot when he flew to the Canadian city earlier this month, because he didn't feel safe flying with his left ankle in a cast.
Arthur Marx, a Martha's Vineyard flight instructor who had given lessons to Kennedy, told CNN the relatively inexperienced pilot loved to fly, and was cautious in the air. "The last time I flew with him was a year ago, and I definitely did not see the kind of person who took unnecessary risks."
"If anything, (he was) underconfident," said Marx.
NTSB: JFK Jr.'s plane shows no in-flight break-up or fire
Federal Aviation Administration
|Back to the top||
© 2001 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.|
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.