NEW YORK (Top40 Charts) - R&B singer and actress Aaliyah, who was killed in a plane crash in the Bahamas with eight others on Saturday (August 25), was supposed to take another flight according to reports published in the Miami Herald, but the singer and her entourage changed plans and took a smaller plane back.
Craig Southerland, vice president of the Fort Lauderdale-based Sky Limo charter company, flew the young singer down to the Bahamas on Thursday. "We just took down two different groups of approximately 20 people total and it consisted of Aaliyah and her producer and various other members of her entourage. We were supposed to pick them up [on Sunday]."
Southerland explained that he was scheduled to make two flights on Sunday at 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. to pick the group back up. Southerland continued, "We never heard from them. Whether they were unable to get in touch or what the details were, I don't know."
Aaliyah; Scott Gallin, 41, of Pompano Beach, Aaliyah's bodyguard; Keith Wallace, 49, of Los Angeles, Aaliyah's manager; Anthony Dodd, 34, of Los Angeles; Gina Smith, 29, of New Jersey, an executive of Blackground Records; Christopher Maldonado, 34 of New Jersey; Eric Foreman, 29, of Hollywood, Aaliyah's makeup artist; Douglas Kratz, 28, of Hollywood, director of video production at Virgin Records; and pilot Luis Morales, all boarded the twin-engine Cessna 402B Saturday evening. Several news outlets including the New York Post are reporting that the pilot argued with the entourage over the amount of luggage and equipment on the plane prior to take off.
At least one witness has come forward to say that they saw the right engine catch fire moments after takeoff. Bahamian investigators say that the plane took a nose dive shortly after takeoff and that the impact ejected most of the victims, some of which were still buckled in their seats. Of the nine on board, six perished immediately including Aaliyah, while three others died from their injuries shortly thereafter.
A team of U.S. investigators headed to the Bahamas on Monday morning to conduct a thorough investigation. The bodies of the victims were still on the island but plans were in the works to possibly transport the bodies to Florida to facilitate the identification process by the families.
Aaliyah's family issued a statement that reads as follows, "Aaliyah's family is devastated at the lost of their loving daughter and sister. Their hearts go out to those families who also lost their loved ones."
Aaliyah's label Blackground Records, which was started by her uncle Barry Hankerson, also released a statement, "Blackground is devastated with the loss of our Queen. The example she showed young people will be sorely missed and we hope her short time on earth will be an inspiration to young people all over the world. We are equally distraught by the passing of our Blackground family members Gina Smith and Keith Wallace. Their hard work and dedication were an invaluable contribution to the success of Aaliyah and Blackground. Our prayers go out to all the families."
Well-wishers are invited to send cards, flowers, letters, etc. to Blackground Record 49 West 27th Street, Mezzanine Level, New York, New York, 10001. Funeral arrangements were not finalized at press time. Aaliyah's latest album, Aaliyah, was recently certified gold and sits at the Number 27 position on the Billboard 200 albums chart this week. The late singer will appear in Anne Rice's adaptation of The Queen Of The Damned, later this fall, in the title role.