THE KENNEDYS: “Chappaquiddick” (1969)




The term “Chappaquiddick incident” refers to the circumstances involving the death of Mary Jo Kopechne, whose body was discovered underwater inside an automobile driven by U.S. Senator Edward M. Kennedy. During the early morning hours of July 19, 1969, Kopechne’s body and the car were found in a tidal channel on Chappaquiddick Island, Massachusetts. After the discovery, Kennedy gave a statement to police saying that during the previous night Kopechne was his passenger when he took a wrong turn and accidentally drove his car off a bridge into the water. After pleading guilty to a charge of leaving the scene of an accident after causing injury, Kennedy received a suspended sentence. The incident became a national scandal, and may have influenced Kennedy’s decision not to campaign for President of the United States in 1972 and 1976.

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