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In a few weeks, it will be the 18th anniversary of the deaths of John F. Kennedy Jr., his wife, Carolyn Bessette Kennedy and her sister, Lauren Bessette, when their plane crashed on a flight to Martha’s Vineyard. In an interview with PEOPLE, Carole Radziwill, one of the stars of Bravo’s “Real Housewives of New York,” talked about the night the plane disappeared and the terror she went through trying to find them.

On July 16, 1999, Radziwill received a call from one of Kennedy’s friends who was supposed to meet them at the Martha’s Vineyard airport. Radziwill, whose background was in investigative journalism, made several calls during the night, trying to locate the trio. She soon reported the trio as missing after calling the air traffic control tower at the New Jersey airport where the plane had departed.


“Once I said that out loud to the Coast Guard and made the missing persons report, I knew that this was a real thing,” she told PEOPLE. “That was a heartbreaking moment.”

RELATED: Decades later, new details emerge about Princess Diana’s mysterious 1995 meeting with JFK Jr.

Radziwill was dismayed at how the early television coverage was referring to the missing persons in past tense, and even called ABC News to voice her displeasure. She said this was “a last sense of control” before the plane was found.

Radziwill was married to Kennedy’s maternal cousin, Anthony, who passed away three weeks after the plane crash from cancer. She also told PEOPLE how much she misses Bessette Kennedy.

Carolyn was not a fair-weather friend. Whether things were going great or things were going terribly, she would be there for you.  She swooped in and made all of the hundreds of hospital stays and doctors visits bearable. And she really was there for both of us nearly every day that last year of [Anthony’s] life.

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