BANGOR, Maine — Bangor International Airport officials sent flowers and a card to John Travolta and his family last week after an airport employee, en route to service the actor’s airplane, hit the family’s two small dogs, killing them.
An investigation by airport and Bangor Police Department officials into how the animals were killed is under way, said Airport Director Rebecca Hupp, who is not disclosing many of the details.
What is known is that the members of the Travolta family landed at BIA at around 1 a.m. Thursday, May 13, in Travolta’s private Boeing 707, and the family’s pets were taken off the plane for a walk on the tarmac.
“I know they were on leashes” and heading to a nearby grassy area when hit, Paul Bloch, Travolta’s publicist said in a phone interview from his Los Angeles office on Tuesday.
Bloch said he did not know which family members were on the plane, what breed the dogs were or their names, or if Travolta, a licensed pilot, was piloting the aircraft. He added that the family is not releasing a statement.
“We’ve been asked by the family to refer all questions” to airport officials, Bloch said.
Hupp declined to say where Travolta’s 707 was coming from, but did say that “it was parked outside the international arrivals building.”
She added that walking on the tarmac is permitted.
“People are allowed to deplane” onto the tarmac to get to the terminal, “so, yes, that is allowed,” Hupp said.
Travolta has been acting for four decades, with starring roles in the 1970s movies “Grease,” and “Saturday Night Fever” and more recent films, such as “Old Dogs” and has a tremendous fan base. He often flies into BIA or the Knox County Regional Airport in Owls Head on his way to his home on Islesboro.
Many were saddened to hear that his pets had been killed.
The Travoltas lost their 16-year-old son, Jett, last year when he had a seizure while the family was vacationing in the Bahamas.
By 4:45 p.m. Tuesday, the Bangor Daily News website had recorded more than 62,000 page hits on the story about the Travotla’s pets. Many readers sent their sympathy to the family.
“This was really sad to hear,” one wrote.
“My sympathy goes out to John Travolta and his family,” said another.
One person who left a comment reached out to all involved in the unfortunate incident.
“My thoughts and prayers go out to the Travolta family, the dog walker, and the BIA employee servicing the plane,” the person wrote.
A statement about the incident issued Monday says, “an airport service pickup truck was approaching the airplane to service the airplane and did not see the dogs. Unfortunately, the dogs were struck and killed.”
The person walking the family pets was not injured.
Hupp would give no details about the driver of the service truck, including how long he had been an airport employee, how many hours he had worked that day or if he has had any prior accidents on his employment record. Once the investigation is complete, its not clear if the report will be made public, she said.
“There are going to be privacy issues and employee issues and certain things will be releasable and certain things that will not be releasable,” Hupp said.
It is unknown whether the driver will face any charges, she said.
“That will be determined by the investigation,” Hupp said.
An e-mail from Bangor interim City Manager Bob Farrar sent Friday to city councilors states “the airport has sent a floral arrangement and card to the Travoltas, who are on an island off the coast of Maine.”
Travolta, 56, and his wife, actress Kelly Preston, 47, own a 42-room house in a small cove on the island of Islesboro. He followed his friend, TV star Kirstie Alley, to the isolated Waldo County island in the early 1990s, and restored the 1903 home, which is located near the village of Dark Harbor.
Town officials said that the Travoltas did not register their dogs on the island, and no one in the office on Tuesday knew what breed of dogs the family owned. A clerk at the Island Market said she also did not what type of dogs the Travoltas owned, but added that even if she knew she would not say for privacy reasons.
“People come out here for their privacy, and we try to respect that,” she said.
Farrar’s e-mail states airport officials were on hand when the family flew out Sunday to apologize again and offer any assistance, if needed.