Ted Kennedy had a life marked... perhaps; more by Fate than by Destiny. A plane crash (with Senator Bayh), a car crash (Mary Jo Kopechne), tragic family deaths, 2 famous brothers (JFK & RFK) and a wealthy, notorious "kingmaker" father (Joseph Kennedy). Ted Kennedy was a Senator for 47 years; leading a licentious, even debauched life for much of those years. His life turned around with his 2nd marriage. If "Character is Destiny" ... then; "What Might Fate Be Called?"
Ted Kennedy has been described as having a distinct aversion to personal conflict. He would avoid it whenever possible.
To his credit, ha also belonged to that time when adversaries could still work together amiably even if they never could agree on much.
His own presidential aspirations went unfulfilled.
His life is full of events that stand out in such a fashion that Chart Studies should yield rich results. His birthtime is from the birth certificate "in hand" (Lois Rodden DataBank) and his time of death is from his wife to Senator Dodd (on the phone).
The time of death is given as 11:30 PM. He passed peacefully in his sleep.
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The Party - July 18, 1969
The town of Edgartown, Massachusetts (on the Island of Martha's Vineyard) had a small island next to it called Chappaquiddick which could be reached by Ferry.
Edgartown was, at this time, hosting the Edgartown Yacht Club Regatta and Ted Kennedy was competing in the Event which took place over the course of several days.
There was also a party taking place on the 18th at Lawrence Cottage... a reunion party for 6 women who were known as "The Boiler-room Girls". They had worked together on Robert Kennedy's 1968 presidential campaign. At the party were Joseph Gargan(Ted Kennedy's cousin) Paul Markham (a school firend of Joe Gargan), Attorney Charles Tretter, Raymond La Rosa, and Kennedy's part-time chauffeur John Crimmins.
At about 11:15 PM that evening, Kennedy got the car keys from Crimmins and left the party. Mary Jo Kopechne told no one she was leaving ... in fact, left her purse and hotel key at the party ... but nevertheless ... she did leave the party with Ted Kennedy.
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To the left is a map of the route taken by Kennedy the night of the Chappaquiddick Incident that ended in the death of Mary Jo Kopechne
DATE: July 19, 1969
TIME: Closest: Between 12:48 AM EDT and 1:00 AM EDT
LONG: 70º W 27' 13"
LAT: 41º N 22' 24"
Note: It is believed that Mary Jo lived for at least 2 hours (maybe as much as 4 hours) in the submerged car before her death.
Deputy Christopher Look's Testimony
July 19th, 1969 - 12:30 AM: Deputy Look left the Edgartown Regatta Dance ... and went to his car at the Chappaquiddick Yacht Club Launch; got in and headed home.
At about 12:45 AM he saw car with a man and a woman in the front seat, parked on Cemetery Road. He thought they might be lost, so he stopped, got out of his car and walked over to see if they needed help. When he was about 20 to 30 feet away, and called out to them; the car backed up in his direction, then took off onto Dike Road in "a cloud of dust".
He noted the license plate began with an "L" and had two "7's" in the plate number.
As it turned out ... Ted Kennedy's car ... a '67 Oldsmobile also had an "L" and two "7"'s.
Diver John Farrar's Testimony
John Farrar, the diver who recovered Kopechne's body and Captain of the
Martha's Vineyard Edgarton Fire Rescue Unit, asserted that Kopechne did
not die from the vehicle overturn or from drowning, but rather from
suffocation, based upon the posture in which he found the body and its
position relative to the area of an upper air pocket in the
Farrar also asserted that Kopechne would likely
have survived had a more timely attempt at rescue been conducted.
Farrar located Kopechne's body in the well of the backseat of the overturned submerged car. Rigor Mortis had set in (so she was frozen in position) and while her hands were clasping the backseat, her face was turned upward.
It looked as if she were holding herself up to get a last breath of
air. It was a consciously assumed position. ... She didn't drown.
died of suffocation in her own air void.
It took her at least three or
four hours to die. I could have had her out of that car twenty-five
minutes after I got the call.
But he [Ted Kennedy] didn't call.
— diver John Farrar, Inquest into the Death of Mary Jo Kopechne, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Edgartown District Court. New York: EVR Productions, 1970.
Ted Kennedy: What He Said ... and ... What He Did
According to the Inquest Testimony : Kennedy says he was driving about 20 mph and headed toward the Ferry Landing, but; managed to unwittingly make a wrong turn onto
Dike Road...a dirt road with no lights and which lead to Dike Bridge.
Dike Bridge has no guardrail. According to Kennedy, a fraction of a second before he reached the bridge he hit the brakes, but; still ended up driving off the side of the bridge into Poucha Pond with the car landing upside down on the bottom.
Kennedy says he managed to get himself out of the car and climb onto the shore, but; Mary Jo didn't follow him out. He says he called her name ... didn't see her, so he went back into the water and dove down 7 or 8 times ... came back up and sat on the shore for about 15 minutes before walking back to the party he and Mary Jo had attended at Lawrence Cottage. He said he saw neither lights nor people on his return walk.
GOING FOR HELP?
Lawrence Cottage had a phone (presumably so Kennedy could call for help) ... but
so did "4" other houses on his way back to Lawrence Cottage. The First of those houses he would have passed is: Dike House ... located 150 yards away from Dike Bridge. Sylvia Malm lived there at the time. She stated that ... when she went to bed that night ... she make sure she left a light on.
Kennedy says when he got back to Lawrence Cottage, he had his cousin, Joe Gargan and party co-host Paul
Markham (later U.S. attorney for Mass.) to head back to the pond to try to rescue
Mary Jo Kopechne.
When they got there; Kennedy further stated that both guys dove into the water many times trying to get to Kopechne but couldn't reach her. Then they all drove to the Ferry Landing ... all agreeing the "incident" had to be reported to the authorities.
The men said Kennedy was crying and near a break-down, but; Kennedy said he told them to "go back to the party and take care of the other girls", and; he (Kennedy) would take care of the "accident". Kennedy says he said this just before once again; diving into the water.
The two men went back to Lawrence Cottage and the party, believing that Kennedy was on his way to Edgartown to report the "accident".
July 19th, 1969: 2:30 AM EDT
Kennedy says he then swam across the 500-foot channel, back to Edgartown where he proceeded to his hotel room, and collapsed on his bed. Then he remembers "hearing noises". So, he got up, put on dry clothes and asked someone what the
time was. He says he was told it was something "like" 2:30 a.m.
2:55 AM EDT
BUT: Still back at his hotel, at 2:55 AM, Kennedy made a complaint. He told the Owner of the Hotel that "a noisy party" had "woken him up".
[Note]: [Were these the "noises that Kennedy claimed had "woken him up" while still in his wet clothes & lying on his bed?]
7:30 AM EDT
By 7:30 am the next morning Kennedy was schmoozing with yesterday's Sailing Race winner... so far making no mention of the "accident".
At 8 a.m., Gargan and Markham show up at the Hotel where they and Kennedy
have a "heated conversation." When asked why he hadn't reported the incident; Kennedy told them he was sure that when they (Gargan & Markham) showed up this morning, he believed a "still alive" Mary Jo would somehow be with them.
The three of them then took the Ferry back to Chappaquiddick Island. Kennedy made a bunch of phone calls from a payphone (to "friends) yet, still did not report the accident to the police.
THERE WASNO AUTOPSY!
The medical examiner was Dr. Donald Mills. He signed a death certificate stating that Mary Jo died of "accidental drowning".
He then released the body to her family.
But, when Mary Jo's Funeral Director returned Mary Jo's clothes, he returned them to the authorities .
On September 18th, 1969, District Attorney Dinis tried to get an order to exhume the body and get an autopsy performed. He says that blood was found on Mary Jo's skirt and in her mouth and nose. ( Apparently, condition of the body was not consistent with her being a "passenger in the front seat" from the accident nor "drowning" alone. )
Mary Jo's parents didn't want the autopsy done and Judge Bernard Brominski held a hearing on October 20th & 21st, and ruled against the autopsy.
Was There An Inquest?
Yes, sort of .... in Edgartown during January of 1970...and conducted in SECRET as requested by Kennedy's lawyers and so ordered by the Massachusetts Supreme Court; though a transcript was released 4 months later.
Judge James Boyle's Findings at the Inquest
The accident occurred between 11:30 PM of July18th and 1:00 AM on July 19th
The Turn onto Dike Road had been on purpose
Kennedy's 20 MPH speed was negligent and possibly reckless
Kennedy failed to exercise due care as he approached the bridge
Kennedy's negligence contributed to Kopechne's death
NO warrant was issued for Kennedy's arrest...
D.A. Dinis did NOT go after Kennedy for reckless manslaughter.
The Kopechne Family GOT $90,904 from Kennedy himself and $50,000 from Kennedy's insurance company.
The Kopechne Family decided NOT to take legal action against Ted Kennedy.
Oh, But There WAS a Grand Jury
April 6th, 1970: Judge Wilfred Paquet presided over a Grand Jury assembled to consider the death of May Jo Kopechne. The members of the Jury were told by Paquet (giving a whole new meaning to the saying that "Justice Is Blind") THEY COULD NOT SEE:
The Evidence Judge Boyle's Report from the Inquest
D.A. Dinis told the Grand Jury there wasn't enough evidence to indict Kennedy on manslaughter, perjury or driving to endanger.
The Grand Jury called 4 witnesses who had not testified at the Inquest. Their testimony lasted all of 20 minutes total.
No Indictiments were Issued.
A FATAL ACCIDENT HEARING
On July 23, of 1969, the Registrar of the Mass. DMV had informed Kennedy that his license was suspended until a hearing could be held on the accident. The hearing took place on May 18, 1970. The hearing concluded that at 20 MPH, Kennedy had been driving too fast for existing conditions. So "serious was this" apparently... that on May 27th, Kennedy was informed that his license was suspended for 6 entire months.