Lauren Gail Bessette (Lauren Gail Bessette)

Lauren Gail Bessette

Sister-in-law of socialite figure John F. Kennedy, Jr., she and her sister Carolyn were killed when the plane they were traveling in crashed into the Atlantic Ocean off Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts.   The National Transportation Safety Board later determined that the probable cause was the pilot’s failure to maintain control during descent over water at night, due to spatial disorientation.  The pilot, brother-in-law John F. Kennedy Jr, was not certified to fly Instrument Flight Rules (IFR), and was not well trained for visual landings at night over water. Born in White Plains, New York, she was a twin with her sister, Lisa Ann Bessette, and the first children of her parents, Dr. William J. and Ann Messina Bessette.  She was raised in affluent Greenwich, Connecticut, attending St. Mary’s High School.  After high school, she attended William Smith College, New York, where she majored in Economics, and would later receive a Master of Business Administration from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.  She worked most of her adult life as a Senior Investment Banker specializing in Asian financial markets at Morgan Stanley Dean Witter in Manhattan.  Lauren accompanied her younger sister, Carolyn, and husband, John F. Kennedy, Jr. on his private plane while they went to a Kennedy family wedding of his cousin, Rory Kennedy, at Hyannisport, Massachusetts; Lauren was to be dropped off first at Martha’s Vineyard while her sister and husband proceeded on to Hyannisport.  The aircraft, a six seat, single engine Piper Saratoga II HP, departed Essex County Airport in Fairfield, New Jersey for Martha’s Vineyard in the late afternoon, with John F. Kennedy, Jr at the controls, and crashed shortly after dark just off of Martha’s Vineyard.  When the plane failed to arrive as scheduled, a search was begun, but by the next day, President Bill Clinton authorized the US Navy to enter the search on the grounds that the missing JFK Jr was a national figure (as private citizens, they were normally not authorized to have the US Government search for them).  The plane was found approximately seven miles offshore, in approximately 100 feet of water, with all three occupants believed to have been killed instantly when it hit the water.  Leaving no will, Lauren’s mother, Ann Messina Freeman (she had divorced her husband several years earlier, and remarried to Dr. Richard Freeman, an orthopedic surgeon), received permission from the Manhattan court to become the administrator of her daughter’s estate; she later successfully sued the Kennedy estate for wrongful death with an undisclosed out-of-court settlement.  Lauren’s ashes were scattered at sea off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard, along with those of JFK Jr and her sister Carolyn, in a funeral service on the Navy’s USS Briscoe, one of the ships sent to search for the missing trio. (bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson) Cause of death: Plane crash


  • November, 05, 1964


  • July, 07, 1999
  • USA

Cause of Death

  • Plane crash


  • Cremated

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