R&B singer and actress Aaliyah died Saturday (Aug. 25) when a small plane that was to carry her and eight others back to the United States crashed after takeoff in Marsh Harbour, Bahamas, authorities said. All nine people were killed in the crash after the engines of the Cessna apparently failed, authorities said. The 22-year-old singer (full name: Aaliyah Dana Haughton) had gone to the Bahamas to shoot a music video.
The twin-engine Cessna went down in clear skies with little wind about 6:50 p.m. Saturday, roughly 200 feet from the end of the runway at Marsh Harbour airport, about 100 miles north of Nassau. Some of the brush was still smoldering this morning as investigators searched the mangled wreckage.
It was not immediately clear what caused the crash on Abaco Island. But Bahamian police Superintendent Basil Rahming said one of the Cessna’s engines “apparently failed.” Six people, including Aaliyah, died instantly. The three others later died of their injuries, he said.
Rahming said the other passengers killed were Scott Gallin, 41; Keith Wallace, 49, of Los Angeles; Douglas Kratz, 28, a representative for Virgin Records, and makeup artist Eric Foreman, 29, both of Hollywood, Calif.; Gina Smith, 29, of New Jersey; and Christopher Maldonado, 32, of New York.
Anthony Dodd, 34, of Los Angeles, died at a Nassau hospital early Sunday morning. The plane’s pilot, identified only as L. Marael, also was killed. The plane was bound for Opa-locka, Fla., police said.
The Cessna 402 was owned by Skystream, a company based in Pembroke Pines, Fla., said Kathleen Bergen, a spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration in Atlanta. The company’s telephone number was not listed, and officials could not immediately be reached for comment.
Aaliyah, of Detroit, was to begin shooting the video for “Rock the Boat” this month in Miami, according to her official Web site. It was not clear whether she filmed that video while in the Bahamas. The artist’s most recent self-titled Blackground/Virgin album debuted at No. 2 on The Billboard 200 and Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart earlier this month.
Her 2000 single “Try Again” earned her a Grammy nomination this year for best female R&B vocalist. Her second album, released in 1996 when she was just 17, featured the single “If Your Girl Only Knew” and went double platinum.
Aaliyah made her feature acting debut in last year’s film “Romeo Must Die,” and also was signed on to appear in two sequels to the high-tech thriller “The Matrix.” She was born Aaliyah Dana Haughton on January 16, 1979, in Brooklyn, N.Y., and made her stage debut as an orphan in a production of “Annie” at the age of 6. Her uncle was married to the soul singer Gladys Knight, who invited Aaliyah to perform with her during a five-night stint in Las Vegas when Aaliyah was 11.
Aaliyah struck a licensing deal as a teen-ager after her uncle, Barry Hankerson, formed Blackground Records. She went gold with her debut album, “Age Ain’t Nothing But Number,” in 1994 — when she was 15 — and benefitted from working closely with hip-hop producer R. Kelly.
“She was like one of my daughters, she was one of the sweetest girls in the world,” said Grammy-winning producer, arranger and composer Quincy Jones. “She vacationed with me and my family together in Fiji. I loved her and respected her and I am absolutely devastated.”
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