Sonny Bono’s cause of death was revealed in 1998, later the FBI agent called it “nonsense”
Sonny Bono loved skiing, and fun trips to Palm Springs ski resorts have always been his way of spending time with his family. A ski trip on the Nevada-California line, however, turned out to be his last.
Sonny Bono was an American politician, actor and singer who rose to prominence after partnering with his second wife Cher to create the pop singer duo “Sonny & Cher”.
The couple rose to fame when they produced their two hit songs, “I Got You, Babe” and “Baby Don’t Go” in 1965 and have continued to touch the hearts of many Americans through their music.
The 1970s saw the duo begin their careers as media personality with top TV shows “The Sonny & Cher Show” and “Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour”. During the decade they were together, they were nominated for two Grammy Awards.
They then sold over 40 million records worldwide. Their career as a duo, however, ended when they divorced in 1975.
After their split, Cher embarked on a very successful solo career, while Bono was elected to Congress as the Republican representative of the United States from California.
In 1986, Bono married his fourth wife, Mary Whitaker, and together they had two children, daughter Chianna Maria and son Chesare Elan.
Congress was on New Year’s vacation and the family of four, along with friends, were having fun opening the New Year. Bono was a renowned skier and frequented ski resorts with his family.
A spokesperson for the resort, John Wagnon, said Bono was skiing the well-maintained intermediate trail known as “Orion”. The trail would have had ideal conditions as it was reasonably open and tree lined like any ski resort would be.
Bono skied forward as his wife took the walk to make sure the children were in front of her and that she would be in a better position to see them and help them if the need arose.
The “The Beat Goes On” singer was soon gone, a big smile on his face. Never realizing that this would be the last time he would see his family, he challenged his son, calling on Ches to follow him.
Ches took off behind his father, but his ski got stuck on an edge. He turned and hit Chianna, so Mary rushed to deal with them. Bono was long gone, unaware that he had just seen his family for the last time.
HIS DISAPPEARANCE AND RESEARCH
Soon after, Mary and the kids stumbled upon the first stopping area, expecting to find Bono waiting for them there, but he was nowhere to be found. They began to search, more out of curiosity than dismay.
At first, Mary was not skeptical. She imagined that they had either taken a different route than Bono’s, or that he had just gone so fast that he wouldn’t stop at the rest area.
Thirty minutes after the search began, and panic began to set in. They made their way to the next rest area, then descended to the back. The day was beginning to pass, but there was still no sign of him.
Mary confided in the ski patrol, but no accidents were reported. So they kept looking – up and down the hill, to the bottom of the mountain, then back up – still, nothing. Married remember of the fateful afternoon:
“The children were so cold. They were crying. I said, ‘Okay. He had to ski all the way down. That’s what happened. He will be there waiting for us.
At 4.30 p.m., they still hadn’t found him. The ski patrol officially declared him missing. Minutes after 6 p.m., the resort president, along with the area sheriff, told Mary they had found a body.
Bono had been involved in a collision. He had hit a tree, and without a helmet it had been fatal to him. As she would learn later, even though he had put on a helmet, the force was too strong to have left him brain dead.
Bono never wore a helmet to ski, but six days earlier Michael Kennedy, a nephew of John F. Kennedy, had died in a skiing accident.
The accident led Bono to discuss helmets with his wife, and he had promised to have one before leaving for the next ski trip.
Pierini, the sheriff, confirmed that the accident happened at 2 p.m., but at the time, Mary had not reported her missing. He adds that it would have been difficult to spot him unless you were skiing or looking for him in that specific area.
He had been “skiing in the trees,” a common activity among advanced skiers, just like Bono. There were no witnesses to the crash and his death was recorded as having been caused by head injuries resulting from blunt trauma.
FBI AGENT DISAGREES WITH AUTOPSY RESULTS
Despite the autopsy results showing the collision with the tree was the cause of death, Ted Gunderson, a former FBI agent, refuted the claims, claiming Bono was murdered.
Gunderson claimed Bono – a member of the US House of Representatives – was about to expose some of the international arms and drug networks, and that senior US officials had hired hitmen to track him down. .
The best forensic experts would have backed up his claims, and Gunderson had spoken to America’s Globe regarding the autopsy results, as reported by NME:
“It is nonsense for anyone to try now to suggest that Bono died after crashing into a tree.”
Years after her disappearance, Cher opened up about the life she shared with her former husband on a CBS reality show called “Sonny and Me: Dear Remembers.”
The show, she said, was her way of telling Bono’s extraordinary story because, without him, she wouldn’t have been where she was. She also revealed that she often communicated with Bono through the spiritual medium James Van Praagh.
Today Bono is remembered for his musical genius and his involvement in Congress as a conservative politician. He was replaced by his three children from his two marriages, his second to Cher and his fourth to Mary.