Bodies Found Kennedy Family May Bury JFK Jr. at Sea Today

Article excerpt

AQUINNAH, Mass. -- Navy divers found the bodies of John F. Kennedy Jr., his wife and sister-in-law amid the wreckage of Kennedy's plane, all but ending the painful, four-day vigil their families endured during the search of the waters off Martha's Vineyard.

A dive was under way yesterday to bring the bodies to the surface. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy and his sons, Patrick and Edward Jr., were taken by boat to the USS Grasp, a Navy salvage ship leading the recovery effort.

The announcement of the discovery came after ships from the Navy, Coast Guard and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration spent the night scouring a site 7 1/2 miles southwest of Martha's Vineyard.

After a search that had the nation transfixed since Saturday, the plane's body, or fuselage, was spotted by the underwater cameras at 11:30 p.m. Tuesday. The bodies of all three victims were found in the fuselage, Coast Guard Rear Adm. Richard Larrabee said.

A section of the fuselage that included the instrument panel was recovered. The effort to recover more of the wreckage was to continue today.

To keep TV cameras away, officials banned flights within five miles of the recovery effort, which was led by the USS Grasp, a Navy salvage ship.

JFK Jr.'s uncle, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, and his sons, Patrick and Edward Jr., were aboard the Grasp while the bodies were recovered and accompanied the remains to shore.

Larrabee said the bodies were brought to the surface "in a way that respected the situation they were in. It was something we were very sensitive to."

At a White House news conference, President Clinton defended his decision to pour so many federal resources into the search for the plane, saying it was "consistent with what would have been done in any other case."

He said "it was the right thing to do," partly because of the Kennedy family's role "in our national lives, and because of the enormous losses that they have sustained in our lifetimes."

Kennedy, 38, was piloting his single-engine plane Piper Saratoga from New Jersey when it dropped from radar 16 1/2 miles from Martha's Vineyard Airport on Friday night. …

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