John Travolta and his actress wife Kelly Preston flew home from the Bahamas with their teenage son’s ashes yesterday after it emerged they had been too distraught to attend his cremation service on the holiday island.

While the grieving couple remained in seclusion at their holiday home in the Bahamas, a family friend and family doctor Mark Smith attended the cremation of 16-year-old Jett.

The island’s former tourism minister Obie Wilchcombe, a Bahamas MP and close friend of the Travoltas, revealed that the celebrity couple had decided to stay away.

John Travolta's Gulfstream 2 Jett Travolta

Final journey: John Travolta’s private jet carried the actor, his family, and the ashes of his son back to Florida

The couple’s arrival in Florida followed reports of a secret operation on Grand Bahama island involving a decoy hearse and an empty coffin which allowed the couple to avoid waiting media as they left for Florida.

A black hearse carrying a simple wooden casket was reportedly dispatched from the Restview funeral home on Grand Bahama island to the local airport last night in what undertakers later claimed had been a ruse, possibly to divert waiting media.

Meanwhile the celebrity couple and their eight-year-old daughter Ella Bleu slipped away unseen for a flight home to Ocala, Florida, with an urn containing Jett’s ashes.


John Travolta pictured with son Jett, who is rumoured to have suffered autism

John Travolta has flown the ashes of his son Jett home to Florida. The 16-year-old died after a seizure in the bath at the Hollywood star’s Bahamas home

‘Everything was in place, the cremation was completed and they decided to leave,’ said Mr Wilchcombe.

Avid pilot Travolta is believed to have taken the controls of his private jet for the flight back to Florida.

Friends said that despite his grief Travolta, 54, was determined to fly his son on his ‘final journey’.

John Travolta's son Jett

A hearse was dispatched to the airport – but it was later revealed to be a decoy

‘John has always said how much Jett loved flying with him and he wanted to be at the controls for his very last journey,’ said a family friend.

‘He and Kelly are still very shaky, but John wanted to do this for Jett. He would have been in the cockpit and at the controls for some of the flight.’

The funeral of the teenager, who died as a result of a seizure, is expected to be held in the Travoltas’ home town of Ocala, near Orlando, Florida later this week.

John and Jett, who was 16 when he died

Tragedy: John with his son Jett. The actor has since said he is ‘heartbroken’

A host of Hollywood stars, including fellow Scientologists Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, are expected to attend. Will Smith, Oprah Winfrey and actress Kirstie Alley are also expected to be there.

Jett’s cremation took place after an autopsy by two pathologists revealed he had died from a seizure.

Jett’s ashes were later delivered in an urn to the Travolta’s beachfront home at the Old Bahama resort near Freeport on Grand Bahama.

John Travolta's house in the Bahamas where Jett died

Scene of the tragedy: Travolta’s family home in the Bahamas, where Jett died

The family later boarded a white Gulfstream jet under the cover of darkness on Monday night for the two hour flight to Tampa.

The plane was met by a large van with logos and insignia from the Church of Scientology on the tarmac and driven to their home on the Jumbolair estate in nearby Ocala.

Travolta has told how he battled for almost 20 minutes to keep his son alive after his nanny Jeff Kathlein found him slumped on the bathroom floor of their holiday home.

Family lawyer Michael McDermott said funeral details are still being finalised but the service would be ‘private’.


Family Travolta: John and his wife Kelly Preston pictured with both their children Ella, 8, and Jett

‘There are things that need to be arranged and we are in the process of doing that,’ said McDermott.

‘John and Kelly are being incredibly brave, but know they have to be strong for their daughter Ella.’

As the Travoltas grieved at their £2.5m home in Ocala Hollywood friends rallied to his support.


Touching: Travolta shares a father-and-son moment with Jett

Jett was said to suffer from Kawasaki syndrome and was prescribed a drug called Depakote, a strong anti-seizure medication but taken off this when it failed to prevent seizures. The Travoltas were concerned about lasting damage to his organs.


McDermott said Jett was having at least one seizure a week.

Hollywood friends of the Travoltas yesterday spoke of their sadness.


Tragic: Jett with his mother and sister Ella Bleu

Mike Nichols, who directed Travolta in 1998’s Primary Colours, said: ‘They’re very strong. They have Ella.

‘They have lots of people they love to take care of. And they will. But they have to have time for just plain grief.’

Sherry Lansing, the former head of Paramount Studios and a long-time Travolta friend, says Travolta and Preston are ‘two of the kindest, most decent people and everything is about their family and everything is about their children.’

‘I cannot begin to imagine the depths of pain that somebody feels when this happens,’ she says. ‘It’s just the worst of anything that could ever happen to anybody.’

Strictly Dancing judge Bruno Tonioli, a close friend of Preston, said the actress is ‘a wonderful lady, a wonderful mother’ to whom he sends his ‘deepest sympathy.’

‘He was their pride and joy,’ said Tonioli. ‘Their children are everything to them. There are no words to express how sorry I am; I am at a loss for words.’


Jett plants a loving kiss on his father's head

Jett plants a loving kiss on his father’s head

Since Jett’s death, speculation has centred on whether the Scientology beliefs of his parents played any part in the treatment of his long-term illness.

There is also a discrepancy over how long the teen’s body was left before he was discovered.

Although Travolta’s representatives deny there was any delay, the Bahamian police are insisting Jett was last seen the night before he was found unconscious at 10am on Friday morning.

Some critics have suggested that Jett suffered from autism, an illness that is not recognised by the Church of Scientology.

But his parents dismissed the autism claims, saying their son had Kawasaki Syndrome, a rare disease prevalent in children under five that can lead to heart attacks in the most serious cases.

Ambulanceman Marcus Garvey said how Travolta and Preston watched on in horror as emergency workers tried to revive Jett.

Preston asked: ‘Is he breathing? Are you helping him? Are you getting him back? Is he coming back?’

Garvey said the parents insisted on accompanying their son in the ambulance. Travolta was holding the teen’s hand and saying, ‘Come on, Jett’.


In a statement posted on his website, Travolta paid tribute to his son: ‘Jett was the most wonderful son that two parents could ever ask for and lit up the lives of everyone he encountered.

‘We are heartbroken that our time with him was so brief. We will cherish the time that we had with him for the rest of our lives.’


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