Carole Radziwill opened up about the July 1999 plane crash that killed her cousin-in-law John F. Kennedy Jr. and her best friend Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy in a clip for HLN’s docuseries How It Really Happened. Watch what she said in the clip above.
The Real Housewives of New York star, 53, who was married to Kennedy’s cousin Anthony Radziwill, recalled the phone call with Bessette-Kennedy shortly before they boarded the private jet from Fairfield, New Jersey, which crashed en route to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts. “Carolyn called me from the plane right before they were taking off,” she says in a clip from the show. “I think it was probably a little bit after 8. I don’t remember anything really important from that conversation. I certainly didn’t think it would be the last time I would speak to my friend.”
There was one particularly memorable part of the conversation, though. “I remember at the end, she said, ‘I love you,’” Radziwill said. “For some reason, I didn’t say I love you back, and that always stuck with me. And she said, ‘I’ll call you when I land.’ And that was the last I ever heard from her or anything.”
After the couple and Carolyn’s sister, Lauren Bessette, who was also on board the plane, failed to meet their friend “Pinky” at the Martha’s Vineyard airport, friends and family started to worry. “The phone rang at midnight and I got a sick feeling in my stomach and it was John’s friend Pinky and he said, ‘Are they there with you? I’m at the airport and they’re not here,’” the What Remains author said. “I just bolted out of bed.”
The reality star immediately went into reporter mode to find her friends. “I spent 15 years as a journalist and producer at ABC News and I thought, ‘OK, I need to figure out this story and solve it somehow. I need to figure out where they are, because they’re somewhere.’ One call led to another to another.”
After several hours, Radziwill called the Coast Guard to report the plane missing around 2 or 3 a.m. “I said, ‘My cousin is missing.’ He took the name and there was a little bit of a gasp on the other end of the phone,” she said.
Three days later, search and rescue crew found fragments of Kennedy’s plane. On July 21, 1999, they found the bodies of all three passengers. Kennedy was 38, and Bessette-Kennedy was 33. The tragedy continued for Carole when her husband Anthony — his mother, Lee Radziwill, is Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’ sister — died less than a month later on August 10, 1999, after a long battle with testicular cancer.
How It Really Happened: JFK Jr.’s Tragic Final Flight airs on HLN Friday, March 10, at 9 p.m. ET.