Travolta’s lawyer testifies in Bahamas extortion trial

John Travolta's son died of a seizure in January at the age of 16.
John Travolta’s lawyer testified Tuesday that the paramedic who drove Travolta’s son to a hospital the day he died later wanted money for documents the driver suggested could be detrimental to the actor.

Paramedic Tarino Lightbourne and former Bahamian Sen. Pleasant Bridgewater are on trial, accused of plotting to extort $25 million from Travolta after 16-year-old Jett Travolta died from a seizure in the Bahamas. Travolta, who testified last Wednesday, is expected to return to the witness stand later in the week. Travolta’s lawyer, Allyson Maynard-Gibson, said Bridgewater approached her in the days after Jett’s death on January 2, saying she had a client who had a document Travolta might want. Bridgewater gave her copies of the papers, which included ambulance dispatch reports and a paper signed by Travolta releasing the ambulance company from legal liability, Maynard-Gibson testified. The paramedic expected Travolta would pay millions to prevent publication of the documents because “he would not want his name tarnished in media,” Maynard-Gibson said. Bridgewater told Travolta’s lawyer that her client believed the documents could suggest that Travolta was negligent by wanting to take his son to his private jet for a flight to a Florida hospital, instead of going directly to a local hospital, she said.

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Maynard-Gibson said she called police, who then videotaped a hotel room meeting between the paramedic and another Travolta lawyer. Those investigators testified Tuesday, and their video was expected to be played in court later. Travolta’s testimony last week was the first time he spoke publicly about his desperate efforts to save his son’s life after he suffered a seizure at the family’s vacation home in the Bahamas. Travolta and his wife, actress Kelly Preston, have been in seclusion for most of this year. Friends have described their deep grief over Jett’s death. Travolta said a nanny found Jett unresponsive at the home on the island of Grand Bahamas, where the family was spending their New Year’s holiday. A family friend with a medical background helped in urgent efforts to revive Jett, Travolta said. “We continued CPR, and my wife was holding his head,” Travolta said. His wife sat in the Nassau courtroom, sometimes crying as she listened to the testimony. Travolta said he initially told the ambulance driver to rush them to an airport where his private jet was parked. Travolta, who is a pilot, said he wanted to fly his son to a West Palm Beach, Florida, hospital instead of driving him to one in Freeport. The paramedic, however, asked Travolta to sign a statement releasing the ambulance company from liability. “I received a liability of release document,” he said. “I signed it. I did not read it. Time was of the essence.” Travolta said that while he and his wife were riding in the ambulance with their son, they decided to divert to the hospital. At the hospital, Travolta was told his son “wasn’t alive,” he said.