Aaliyah Plane Crash Probe Widens
The investigation into the plane crash that killed 22-year-old singer Aaliyah and eight others in the Bahamas widened as U.S. officials said they would help determine what caused the plane to go downThe investigation into the plane crash that killed 22-year-old singer Aaliyah and eight others in the Bahamas widened as U.S. officials said they would help determine what caused the plane to go down shortly after takeoff.
Aaliyah and the others had come to the Bahamas to shoot a music video, authorities said. As previously reported, their twin-engine Cessna was bound for Opa-locka, Fla. when it went down roughly 200 feet from the end of the runway at Marsh Harbour airport on Abaco Island, 100 miles north of Nassau on Saturday.
Bahamian investigators have searched through the wreckage for clues to the crash. Police Superintendent Basil Rahming said only that one of the Cessna's engines "apparently failed."
Authorities from the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) are to join the investigation today (Aug. 27), said NTSB spokesperson Ted Lopatkiewicz.
Aaliyah, who had two Grammy nominations, a platinum album, and several high-profile movie roles, was killed instantly. Five others on board also died in the crash, while three more died later of their injuries, Rahming said.
Born in New York and raised in Detroit, Aaliyah had deep roots in the R&B community. She later returned to live in Manhattan. She is survived by her mother, father, and brother. "Aaliyah's family is devastated at the loss of their loving daughter and sister," said a statement from the singer's publicist. "Their hearts go out to those families who also lost their loved ones."
Police identified the other victims as bodyguard Scott Gallin, 41; Keith Wallace, 49, of Los Angeles; Douglas Kratz, 28, a representative for Virgin Records, makeup artist Eric Foreman, 29, Gina Smith, 29, all of Hollywood, Calif.; Anthony Dodd, 34, of Los Angeles; and Christopher Maldonado, 32, of New Jersey. The plane's pilot, identified only as L. Maradel, also died.
The bodies were taken to the morgue at Princess Margaret Hospital in Nassau, where they were to be kept for relatives to help identify them, U.S. Embassy spokesperson Brian Bachman said. Some were badly burned in the crash, authorities said. Virgin Records offered to pay for the relatives to come, Bachman said. The company also was considering bringing the bodies to Miami, to be met by family members there, he said, but no arrangements had been made as of late yesterday.
The Cessna 402 was owned by Skystream, a company based in Pembroke Pines, Fla., said Kathleen Bergen, a spokesperson for the FAA in Atlanta. The company's telephone number was not listed, and company officials could not immediately be reached for comment.
A spokesperson for Wichita, Kan.-based Cessna said she was not aware of any safety problems with the twin-engine 402 model. The company hasn't manufactured that model for about 12 to 15 years, she said.
Aaliyah's song "Try Again" earned her a Grammy nomination this year for best female R&B vocalist. She was nominated in the same category in 1999 for the song "Are You That Somebody." In 1996, she released her second album; the single, "If Your Girl Only Knew," was certified double-platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for U.S. shipments of 2 million copies.
Aaliyah made her first feature film appearance last year in the movie "Romeo Must Die." While filming of Anne Rice's "Queen of the Damned" in Australia delayed the release of her latest album, she recently told Billboard that her burgeoning acting career wasn't going to overtake her desire to make music. "Music is first to me -- that's my heart -- but I've acted since I was young," she said. "I wanted to take that step at some point in my career, but I wanted it to be the right time and the right vehicle -- 'Romeo' was it."
In addition to "Queen of the Damned," Aaliyah's performance in "Romeo" also led to roles in the sequels to "The Matrix" and a remake of 1976's "Sparkle" -- the story of a Supremes-like group's rise to stardom -- which Whitney Houston is producing.
She was born Aaliyah Haughton on Jan. 16, 1979, in Brooklyn. She made her stage debut as an orphan in a production of "Annie" at the age of 6. Her uncle was married to soul singer Gladys Knight, who invited Aaliyah to perform with her during a five-night stint in Las Vegas at age 11.
Aaliyah struck a licensing deal as a teen-ager after her uncle, Barry Hankerson, formed Blackground Records.
Her 1994 debut album, "Age Ain't Nothing But Number," was certified gold by the RIAA for U.S. shipments of 500,000 copies -- when she was just 15 years-old.
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