The family of John Travolta – who mourns the death of his wife Kelly Preston at the age of 57 today – was previously hit by a tragedy in 2009 when the 16-year-old son of the Jett couple died after a seizure at a holiday home in the Bahamas.
And it didn’t stop there, as Jett’s death sparked a lengthy lawsuit after an ambulance driver and his lawyer were accused of extorting $ 25 million from the couple by threatening to release sensitive details about the death.
Travolta testified during the criminal trial and was willing to do this a second time after the trial failed, but later decided not to pursue the case further, citing the heavy pressures on his family.
Preston and Travolta then returned to acting, but the pair had continued to express their grief in recent years. John described his son’s death as “the worst thing that ever happened in my life” – and remembered it how the Church of Scientology had helped them through their grief.
Kelly Preston posted this photo of her late son Jett in 2019, ten years after he died in a holiday home in the Bahamas after an attack
John Travolta (second left), wife Kelly Preston (right) and their children Jett (second right) and Ella (left) in the 2000s. Jett died in January 2009 in the Bahamas
Jett Travolta was born in 1992, after the couple married in Paris the year before while waiting for the child.
His parents revealed that he had Kawasaki syndrome as a toddler, a little-understood disease that can cause a fever and rash.
The family said he had a history of seizures, and friends said he had developmental disabilities his mother Kelly later described as autism.
In January 2009, while vacationing in the Bahamas, Jett was found unconscious in a bathroom and pronounced dead in the hospital, where doctors identified the “seizure disorder” as the cause of his death. According to reports, he had hit his head on a bathtub.
Dozens of family members flew to Grand Bahama to comfort John Travolta and Kelly Preston, who said that “Jett was the prettiest son two parents could ever ask for.”
“We are devastated that our time with him was so short. We will have the time we treasured with him for the rest of our lives, ”they said at the time.
Jett was cremated and his ashes flew to Florida with his parents and a memorial service was held in the family home.
While mourning the loss of their son, the couple was in even greater pain when local ambulance driver Tarino Lightbourne and his lawyer Pleasant Bridgewater reportedly attempted to extort them by threatening to release sensitive details of death.
Lightbourne, who was among the physicians treating Jett, is said to have used the threat to attempt to extort $ 25 million from the actor. He and Bridgewater denied the allegations.
John Travolta and Kelly Preston with their surviving children Ella (right) and Benjamin (front) at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival
Kelly Preston’s latest post on Instagram was one to celebrate Father’s Day in June. The photo is said to have been taken last year
The two suspects were charged in the Bahamas, where Travolta testified about how he had desperately tried to save his son’s life.
According to evidence from Travolta, Lightbourne had threatened to go public with a document signed by Travolta denying his permission to take Jett to a local hospital.
Travolta said he signed the document because he initially wanted Jett to be flown to Florida for treatment rather than being admitted to the Bahamas.
However, the trial was due to be interrupted in October 2009 when a Bahamian legislator proposed that the jury, still under discussion, acquitted one of the suspects.
Travolta initially said he was willing to take the position again for a new trial, but in September 2010, the family announced that they would not handle the charges.
“The Travolta family have said that this case has brought them incredible stress and pain and they all want to put this all behind them,” said a prosecuting attorney at the time.
John Travolta said in a statement that his involvement in the lawsuit had resulted in “significant emotional costs for my family.”
“The long-standing status of this issue continued to take a heavy emotional toll on my family, so we concluded that it was finally time to put this case behind us,” he said.
“Therefore, after much thought, I came to the conclusion that it was in my family’s interest not to voluntarily return to the Bahamas to testify a second time.”
Kelly Preston and John Travolta in the 1989 film The Experts – the film that led to their romance and eventually marriage
Pictured left: Kelly Preston and John Travolta in The Experts – the 1988 production they first met. Pictured right, Preston as Avery Bishop in the 1996 movie Jerry Maguire
Last year, 10 years after Jett’s death, Kelly Preston shared an emotional tribute to her ‘sweet love’ Jett on Instagram saying he was ‘forever in our hearts.’
“I send love to all the beautiful autistic children and the wonderful people who love them. May we all shine and give love and respect to children with special needs, ” she said in April 2019.
In the same month, John Travolta marked what would have been Jett’s 27th birthday by sharing a painting of his son and saying, “Congratulations my son, I love you.”
In an interview with Us weekly Last January, on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of Jett’s death, Travolta said the Church of Scientology had helped the couple through the dark times.
“The Church has not left our side for two years. I don’t know if I would have made it without their support, ”he said.
“It’s the worst thing that ever happened in my life,” he said. “The truth is, I didn’t know if I would make it.”
Travolta and Preston had two other children, daughter Ella Bleu in 2000 and son Benjamin in 2010.
Tributes are pouring in for Preston today after Travolta announced last night that she had died of breast cancer after a two-year ordeal.
Preston died on Sunday morning after “battling courageously with the love and support of so many,” said Travolta when he first revealed his wife’s two-year-old cancer problem.
John confirmed his wife’s death in an Instagram post on Sunday evening, writing:Kelly’s love and life will always be remembered.
“I’m taking the time to be there for my kids who have lost their mothers, so forgive me if you don’t hear from us for a while. But please know that I will feel your outpouring of love in the coming weeks and months as we heal. ‘
Their daughter Ella, now 20, said she had “never met anyone as brave” as her mother.