General News

Aaliyah's body reaches U.S.

By:
Aug 29, 2001 | 10:48am EDT

The body of R&B singer Aaliyah was flown back to the U.S. on Tuesday. A private jet transported her body from Nassau, Bahamas to New Jersey's Newark International Airport, People magazine reports.

Aaliyah's body lay inside a white cardboard coffin stamped "Extreme Care."

Virgin Records, which distributed records for Aaliyah's label, Blackground Records, handled the arrangements, Reuters reports. Neither Virgin nor U.S. Embassy officials in Nassau would disclose details about her body's arrival in the United States.

"Some of the families have expressed to us a desire to not share the information publicly. We're going to respect that," U.S. Embassy spokesman Brian Bachman told Reuters.

The bodies of the remaining eight victims of the fatal plane crash were expected to be flown out of the Bahamas by midday Wednesday, People magazine adds.

Fans of Aaliyah are holding candlelight vigils in her memory across the country and flocking to music stores to buy her CDs.

At the Detroit High School for the Fine and Performing Arts, which Aaliyah attended, mourners left flowers, stuffed animals, and messages of condolence.

In West Hollywood, fans gathered around a billboard with a picture of the singer to leave flowers and poems of grief.

Music television channels, including MTV and BET, scheduled broadcast tributes to Aaliyah on Tuesday. On Sunday, pop diva Janet Jackson took a moment to dedicate the song "Come Back To Me," to the fallen young performer during her Los Angeles show.

But while hundreds are gathering to honor the late singer, investigators are still trying to determine what caused the plane crash that killed her and eight others.

Bahamian police said the plane apparently had engine problems as it took off for Opa-Locka airport near Miami, Fla., Reuters reported. The New York Post reported Tuesday that the pilot of the Cessna 402 argued that the chartered plane was overloaded and had trouble getting one of the engines started.

On Wednesday, The Miami Herald reported that the pilot, Luis Morales III, 30, was given probation after he pleaded no contest to possession of cocaine just 12 days before the tragedy after police found a small amount of crack cocaine in his car. Morales also pleaded no contest to earlier charges of dealing in stolen property and a third-degree grand theft.

Morales, who had been hired by the charter just two days before the crash, wasn't authorized by the Federal Aviation Administration to fly the plane for the operator, U.S. aviation officials said Tuesday.

FAA records show that Blackhawk International Airways is cleared to fly charters under a single-pilot certificate, meaning only one pilot is authorized to fly the plane. According to Kathleen Bergen, spokeswoman for the FAA in Atlanta, the name of the pilot in the authorization paper wasn't Morales.

Morales apparently held a commercial pilot's certificate to fly multiengine aircraft with instruments.

"The whole thing is under investigation, and under what certificate that flight was operating has not been established," Bergen said.

Aaliyah's family is planning to have a private funeral and will not release details of the ceremony, ABCNews.com reported on Wednesday.

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