Stephanie Damore Biography & Facts
The Chappaquiddick incident occurred on Chappaquiddick Island in Massachusetts some time around midnight between July 18 and 19, 1969, when Senator Edward M. "Ted" Kennedy negligently drove his car off a narrow bridge, causing it to overturn in a tidal pond. This resulted in the drowning death of his 28-year-old passenger Mary Jo Kopechne, who was trapped inside the vehicle.Kennedy left a party on Chappaquiddick at 11:15 p.m. Friday. He maintained that his intent was to immediately take Kopechne to a ferry landing and return to Edgartown, but that he accidentally made a wrong turn onto a dirt road leading to a one-lane bridge. After his car skidded off the bridge into Poucha Pond, Kennedy swam free, and maintained that he tried to rescue Kopechne from the submerged car, but that he could not. Kopechne's death could have happened any time between about 11:30 p.m. Friday and 1 a.m. Saturday, as an off-duty deputy sheriff stated he saw a car matching Kennedy's license plate at 12:40 a.m. Kennedy left the scene and did not report the accident to police until after 10 a.m. Saturday. Meanwhile, a diver recovered Kopechne's body from Kennedy's car shortly before 9 a.m. Saturday.
At a July 25, 1969, court hearing, Kennedy pled guilty to a charge of leaving the scene of an accident, and received a two-month suspended jail sentence. In a televised statement that same evening, he said his conduct immediately after the accident "made no sense to me at all", and that he regarded his failure to report the accident immediately as "indefensible". A January 5, 1970 judicial inquest concluded that Kennedy and Kopechne did not intend to take the ferry, and that Kennedy intentionally turned toward the bridge, operating his vehicle negligently, if not recklessly, at too high a speed for the hazard which the bridge posed in the dark. The judge stopped short of recommending charges, and a grand jury convened on April 6, 1970, returning no indictments. On May 27, 1970, a Registry of Motor Vehicles hearing resulted in Kennedy's driver's license being suspended for a total of sixteen months after the accident.
The Chappaquiddick incident became national news that influenced Kennedy's decision not to run for President in 1972 and 1976, and it was said to have undermined his chances of ever becoming President. Kennedy ultimately decided to enter the 1980 Democratic Party presidential primaries, but earned only 37.6% of the vote and lost the nomination to incumbent President Jimmy Carter.
U.S. Senator Edward M. (Ted) Kennedy, age 38, and his cousin, Joseph Gargan, 39, planned to race Kennedy's sailboat, Victura, in the 1969 Edgartown Yacht Club Regatta on Friday and Saturday, July 18 and 19, 1969, after having forgone the previous year's Regatta because of the assassination of Kennedy's brother, Robert, that June. Gargan rented secluded Lawrence Cottage for the weekend on Chappaquiddick Island, which is a tiny island accessible by ferry from Edgartown on Martha's Vineyard. They hosted a cookout party at the cottage at 8:30 p.m that evening as a re-union for the "Boiler Room Girls", women who had served on Robert Kennedy's 1968 presidential campaign. Six of these attended the party: Mary Jo Kopechne, Rosemary Keough, Esther Newberg, sisters Nance and Mary Ellen Lyons, and Susan Tannenbaum. All were in their twenties, and single.
The men at the party included the crew of Kennedy's sailboat entered in the regatta: Gargan; Paul Markham, a school friend of Gargan who had previously served as the U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts; and John B. Crimmins, 63, a long-time political associate of Kennedy who served as his chauffeur for the weekend. Others in attendance were attorney Charles Tretter, a Kennedy advisor; and Raymond LaRosa, who had worked on Kennedy's Senate campaigns. All the men were married, except Crimmins; wives were not invited to the Chappaquiddick weekend. Other friends and campaign workers, male and female, had been invited, but did not attend, for various reasons. Markham and Crimmins intended to spend the night at the cottage, while the others were booked at hotels on Martha's Vineyard - the men at the Shiretown Inn, one block from the Edgartown ferry slip, and the women at the Katama Shores motor inn, about 2 miles (3.2 km) south of the ferry slip.
Sequence of events
According to Kennedy, Kopechne asked him to give her a ride back to her hotel in Katama. Kennedy requested the keys to his car (which he did not usually drive) from his chauffeur Crimmins. Kennedy put this time at "approximately 11:15 p.m.", although he was not wearing a watch; the time came from Crimmins' watch. Returning to Edgartown and Katama required making the last ferry, which left the island at midnight, or else calling to arrange a later ferry. Kopechne told no one else that she was leaving for the night with Kennedy, and, in fact, left her purse and hotel key at the party.The exact time the crash occurred is unknown, due to a conflict between the testimony of Kennedy and a deputy sheriff who claimed to have seen his car at a later time. Kennedy claimed that, as soon as he left the party, he immediately drove one-half mile (0.8 km) north on Chappaquiddick Road headed for the ferry landing, and mistakenly made a wrong turn, right, onto the dirt Dike Road, instead of bearing left to stay on the paved Chappaquiddick Road for another two and a half miles (4.0 km). There is also a northbound dirt Cemetery Road at this intersection.Part-time Deputy Sheriff Christopher "Huck" Look left work by 12:30 a.m. on Saturday as a gate guard in uniform for the regatta dance, returned to Chappaquiddick Island in the yacht club's private boat, and drove east and south on Chappaquiddick Road toward his home. At around 12:40 a.m., after he passed the intersection with Dike Road, he saw a dark four-door sedan driven by a man, with a woman in the front seat, approaching and passing slowly in front of him. The car drove off the pavement onto Cemetery Road, and stopped. Thinking the occupants of the car might be lost, Look stopped and walked towards the other vehicle. When he was 25 to 30 feet (7.6 to 9.1 m) away, the car reversed and started backing up towards him. As he called out to offer help, the car moved forward and veered quickly eastward onto Dike Road, speeding away and leaving a cloud of dust. Look recalled that the car's license plate began with an L and contained two 7s, consistent with Kennedy's license L78–207 on his Oldsmobile Delmont 88. He returned to his car, and continued on his way south. Look's version, if true, leaves over an hour of Kennedy's time with Kopechne unaccounted before the crash.About a minute later, Look saw Kennedy's party guests Nance and Mary Ellen Lyons, and Ray LaRosa, dancing in a conga line down the middle of Chappaquiddick Road, a short distance south of Dike bridge. He stopped to ask if they needed a ride, which they declined. LaRosa and the Lyons s.... Discover the Stephanie Damore popular books. Find the top 100 most popular Stephanie Damore books.