John Travolta's 16-year-old son dies in Bahamas
Published: Friday, January 2, 2009 at 6:31 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 2, 2009 at 6:31 p.m.
NASSAU, Bahamas — John Travolta's teenage son, Jett, died in the Bahamas after falling ill and hitting his head at his family's vacation home, police said Friday.
A house caretaker found Jett, 16, unconscious in a bathroom late Friday morning. He was taken by ambulance to a Freeport hospital, where he was pronounced dead, according to a statement from chief police superintendent Basil Rahming.
Jett had last been seen going into the bathroom on Thursday and had a history of seizures, according to the statement. Police said they are planning an autopsy to determine the cause of death.
Another police spokeswoman, Loretta Mackey, said Jett apparently hit his head on the bathtub.
A spokeswoman for Rand Memorial Hospital in Freeport said she could not release any information because of privacy concerns.
Jett was the oldest child of Travolta and his wife, actress Kelly Preston, who also have an 8-year-old daughter. The family arrived on a private plane Tuesday and had been vacationing at their home in the Old Bahama Bay resort community.
"The Travolta family has become like family to us at Old Bahama Bay and we extend our deepest sympathies to them," said Robert Gidel, president of Ginn Resorts, the property's owner.
"He's broken up. He just had to tell Ella a minute ago," family friend and Tampa-based attorney Michael McDermott said Friday. He had just arrived in the Bahamas, where he had planned to join the Travoltas and a small group of their close friends to celebrate the new year. He did not know about the incident until he arrived that afternoon.
His voice cracking with emotion, McDermott called it a tough scene and noted "Kelly's very quiet."
"Just say a prayer for them," he added. "That's all you can do at this point."
McDermott said Friday one of Travolta's close associates was "making funeral arrangements in Ocala."
Jeremy Thayer, the developer of the Jumbolair community north of Ocala where the Travoltas live, said he and wife Terri learned about the tragedy via phone earlier in the day.
"It breaks Terri's and my heart," Thayer said. "He was just such a handsome, handsome, beautiful boy."
Thayer described Jett as a fun-loving teen who loved the outdoors and could often be seen riding his bike or a golf cart around Jumbolair.
The news also came as a blow to Mary Acevedo, a shift manager with Denny's in Silver Springs. The Travolta family eats at the restaurant often, she said, and "are truly the nicest people."
She called Jett a "good kid" and noted the entire family was a joy to have in the restaurant.
"The whole family is just so down to earth," Acevedo said. "(John) just acts like one of us. Half the time, people don't even realize they're there. But when people notice them, he's willing to sign autographs."
The Travoltas also frequented Tony's Sushi in southwest Ocala.
Contacted late Friday afternoon, owner Tony Li was a bit shaken as he had just seen the news on TV. He said he last saw the Travolta family, including Jett, at the restaurant about two months ago.
"Terrible accident," he said. "He was really nice. He liked to eat. He liked to eat."
Li said the staff always made Jett's favorite, fried rice and shrimp tempura, just the way he liked it -- the tempura not to crunchy.
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