Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Family Members Scatter Kennedy Ashes at Sea

In a farewell at sea, a Navy destroyer carried family members Thursday to a ceremony to scatter the ashes of John F. Kennedy Jr., his wife and sister-in-law at a site not far from where they died.

A group of about 15 family members carried the cremated remains of Kennedy, Carolyn Bessette Kennedy and Lauren Bessette onto the USS Briscoe. Their ashes were scattered off Martha's Vineyard about five kilometers from where the bodies were recovered Wednesday.

The mourners included Kennedy's sister, Caroline Kennedy, his uncle, Senator Edward M. Kennedy, and cousins Maria Shriver and William Kennedy Smith. The Bessette sisters' relatives also were attending, including their mother, Ann Freeman, stepfather, Dr. Richard Freeman, and Ms. Bessette's twin sister, Lisa Ann Bessette, a family source said.

The victims' families endured a five-day vigil before the bodies were brought to Cape Cod on Wednesday night for autopsies. The medical examiner determined all three died instantly of multiple traumatic injuries resulting from the plane crash, according to a statement released Thursday morning by the Cape & Islands district attorney.

To keep television cameras away, flights were banned within 8 kilometers of the recovery effort led by the USS Grasp, a Navy salvage ship. Sen. Kennedy and his sons, Patrick and Edward Jr., were aboard the Grasp when the bodies were recovered and accompanied the remains to Woods Hole, Massachussetts.

The Cape Cod Times reported Thursday that the Kennedy family had asked that no photographs be taken during the autopsy of JFK Jr. because they could end up in tabloids or on the Internet. Such photographs are routine.

Kennedy, 38, was piloting his single-engine Piper Saratoga from New Jersey on Friday night when it dropped from radar 27 kilometers from Martha's Vineyard Airport. Kennedy and his 33-year-old wife had planned to drop Ms. Bessette, 34, off at Martha's Vineyard and then fly to Hyannis Port for the wedding of his cousin, Rory.

Flight data showed the plane dropped precipitously after Kennedy took a right turn away from the Vineyard, and aviation experts said he may have been disoriented.

The wreckage, including a section of fuselage with the instrument panel, will be taken to the Coast Guard Air Station on Cape Cod for examination. It will be six to nine months before the accident's cause is determined, officials said.

A private Mass for Kennedy and his wife was scheduled for Friday morning at the Church of St. Thomas More, a Roman Catholic church in New York once attended by his mother, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. President Bill Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton were expected to attend.

New York's Irish community also planned a public ceremony Thursday night at Old St. Patrick's Cathedral in downtown Manhattan, and the Pentagon planned an observance Friday aboard the aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy.

Kennedy, the son of the 35th president, was being returned to waters where he enjoyed sailing, sea kayaking and even searching for a sunken pirate ship. His spirit of adventure led him to pursue a pilot's license, which he received last year.