Actor's son, Jett, likely to be buried in Florida
NASSAU, Bahamas (AP) — John Travolta’s teenage son likely will be buried in Florida following his death at the actor’s home in the Bahamas, an attorney said Saturday.
Preliminary plans are to fly the body of 16-year-old Jett Travolta to Ocala by midweek, Michael McDermott, Travolta’s corporate and commercial attorney, told The Associated Press.
Travolta, 54, and his wife, actress Kelly Preston, 46, have a house in Ocala.
“John and Kelly are still sleeping,” McDermott said late Saturday morning. “They probably stayed up most of the night … It’s heartwrenching. If you knew how much he loved that boy … You could just see it, you could feel it.”
The teenager died in Grand Bahama after apparently having a seizure and hitting his head at his family’s vacation home, authorities said.
A caretaker found Jett unconscious in a bathroom late Friday morning. He was taken by ambulance to a Freeport hospital, where he was pronounced dead, Police Superintendent Basil Rahming said in a statement.
The teenager had last been seen entering the bathroom on Thursday and had a history of seizures, according to the statement. An autopsy is planned for Monday.
Jett apparently hit his head on the bathtub, said a police officer who declined to be named because she was not authorized to speak on the matter.
Family attorney Michael Ossi said in a statement that Jett died suddenly on Friday.
Jett was the couple’s oldest child. They also have an 8-year-old daughter, Ella Bleu.
Preston and Travolta have said that Jett became very sick when he was 2 years old and was diagnosed with Kawasaki disease, an illness that leads to inflammation of the blood vessels in young children. She blamed household cleaners and fertilizers, and said that a detoxification program based on teachings from the Church of Scientology helped improve his health, according to People magazine. Both Travolta and Preston are practicing Scientologists.
“I was obsessive about his space being cleaned. We constantly had the carpets cleaned,” Travolta said in a 2001 interview with CNN’s Larry King, a portion of which was rebroadcast on the “Larry King Live” show Friday night. During that interview, when Jett was 9, Travolta spoke of how his son nearly died when he was 2.
It is unclear whether Jett was taking any medications for his seizures.
The Scientology Celebrity Center in Los Angeles declined to comment.
A spokeswoman for Rand Memorial Hospital in Freeport said she could not release any information because of privacy concerns.
The family had arrived in the Bahamas on a private plane Tuesday and was vacationing at their home in the Old Bahama Bay resort community.
“We are taking great steps to protect Travolta’s privacy,” resort spokesman Ryan Julison said. “Security is heightened because media is attempting to access the property.”
Attorney McDermott said his family and other friends are with the couple in the Bahamas. The group came for a two-day New Year’s celebration and had planned to return to Florida on Sunday.
Obie Wilchcombe, a parliament member and former tourism minister in the Bahamas, said Travolta “spent a tremendous amount of time with Jett.”
“He always brought him along. There was a close affectionate relationship and lots of love,” Wilchcombe told “Larry King Live” in a live telephone interview. “People in the old Bahama community today are in shock.”
Wilchcombe said that an autopsy is planned for Monday, and “we expect a quick resolution.”
“John spoke with the minister of health and the doctors and police are at the hospital. They’re very, very quick to resolve things,” he said.
Travolta, who gained fame as Vinnie Barbarino on the 1970s television show “Welcome Back, Kotter” and the 1977 film “Saturday Night Fever,” went on to become one of Hollywood’s biggest names. He married Preston in 1991.
A television actress, Preston appeared with Travolta in the 2000 film “Battlefield Earth,” based on a novel by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. She also has appeared in numerous television series and in films such as “Jerry Maguire,” “What a Girl Wants,” “For Love of the Game,” “Eulogy” and, as the voice of the mother, in “Cat in the Hat.”
McDermott said that following the death, “Kelly’s kind of withdrawn to herself. She’s dealing with it in her own way.”
Jeremy Thayer, developer of the Ocala subdivision where Travolta owns a home, told the Ocala Star-Banner that Jett was a friendly teen who loved the outdoors and was often seen riding his bike or a golf cart.
Wilchcombe said the Travoltas had invited 60 friends for the New Year’s holiday weekend.