40th anniversary of Chappaquiddick
Sometime around midnight, on July 18, 1969 Kennedy drove his Oldsmobile 88 off of a small bridge on Chappaquiddick island, into eight feet of chilly water. The vehicle landed upside-down. While Kennedy managed to free himself from the wreck and swim to safety, his passenger, 28-year-old Mary Jo Kopechne was left in the car to drown.
Once he reached shore, Kennedy claims to have made seven or eight attempts to rescue Kopechne, but could not free her.
Kennedy then walked back to the cottage where he and four other men, were partying with several young women known as the “Boiler Room Girls“ who had worked on Robert Kennedy‘s campaign. Though Kennedy passed by a fire station and a private home to return to the cottage, he never stopped to ask for help for the trapped Kopechne.
He returned to the party and according to Kennedy himself, informed his cousin and a friend of the situation. The two men, Joseph Gargan and Paul Markham claim to have returned to the scene of the accident and made several unsuccessful attempts to free Kopechne.
Then Kennedy’s story takes an even stranger turn.
After the failed rescue attempts, Kennedy claims to have jumped back into the water and made the 500-foot swim across the channel back to Edgartown. He then walked back to his hotel and spent the night. He even took the time to change clothes and pay a visit to the front-desk, to complain about a noisy party--no doubt Kennedy's sloppy attempt at securing an alibi.
The next morning, Gargan and Markham around 8:00 a.m., and were supposedly shocked to discover that Kennedy never reported the accident to police. According to Kennedy‘s own testimony, he told them: "about my own thoughts and feelings as I swam across that channel ... that somehow when they arrived in the morning that they were going to say that Mary Jo was still alive"
The two men along with Kennedy went back to Chappaquiddick, where Kennedy spent some time making phone calls, seeking advice from various individuals as to how to proceed.
Meanwhile, two fisherman had discovered the submerged car and notified police. At 8:45a.m. a diver recovered the lifeless body of Mary Jo Kopechne.
It was not until 10a.m., over nine hours after driving-off of the bridge that Ted Kennedy went to the police station in Edgarton to report the accident.
In a move which must have been rather tortuous for her parents, Kennedy attended Mary Jo's funeral, wearing a neck brace (which he reportedly never wore again) and looking rather pathetic.
The diver who recovered Kopechne’s body, John Farrar testified at the official inquest that her body was found where the air pocket would have formed. He said: “Had I received a call within five to ten minutes of the accident occurring, and was able, as I was the following morning, to be at the victim's side within twenty-five minutes of receiving the call, in such event there is a strong possibility that she would have been alive on removal from the submerged car.”
A week after the incident, Kennedy pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident and received a suspended two-month sentence. Kennedy then went on national television to repeat his rather implausible story, and to ask for the public’s “prayers.”
"Be of good comfort, Master Ridley, and play the man! We shall this day light such a candle, by God's grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out."
--Hugh Latimer, October 16, 1555
Last edited by Play The Man; 07-19-2009 at 05:18 PM.