Search for JFK Jr. Turns Into an Investigation

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"I can tell you miraculous stories of people surviving," said the Coast Guard's Rear Adm. Richard Larrabee on Sunday, but he didnít. Instead, as day turned into night, Larrabee told a nation what it had long known in its heart ó that two days after John F. Kennedy Jr.ís plane went missing, the search for the presidentís son, his wife and her sister is now a hunt for their remains. Twelve hours, the statistical life of a person afloat in 68-degree water, are long since passed. The National Transportation Safety Board has joined the effort; they are excavators, investigators, not medics. The question of John Jr.ís death has changed from "whether" to "why."

Should that fast-flying Piper Saratoga have taken off at all? The witness of the moment is the last man to see the handsome scion alive: Kyle Bailey, another pilot who was planning a similar Friday evening jaunt. Bailey saw the haze and the fast-approaching dark and decided to stay on the ground. Kennedy was a green pilot, his license a year old, and was rated to fly visually, but not by instruments, which would be required in poor visibility. Perhaps John Jr. was thinking of his waiting family, of his cousinís wedding, or the ride to Marthaís Vineyard he had promised his sister-in-law. The weather wasnít that bad. Heíd be fine. After all, he was a Kennedy.

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