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Mary Jo Kopechne's Death
- Mary Jo Kopechne
- Political Volunteer
- July 26, 1940
- July 18, 1969
She worked as a secretary, a teacher, and a political campaign worker. Mary Jo Kopechne was all of these things - and was also one of the most famous victims of the 1960's when a car she was riding in went off a small bridge to Martha's Vineyard. The reason the accident got so much attention was because the driver not only escaped with his life but waited hours to report the accident. That driver was Massachusetts Senator Edward M. Kennedy.
Mary Jo worked for Kennedy's older brother Bobby, in his aborted 1968 presidential bid. A year later, in the summer of 1969, Kopechne attended a reunion party for the RFK campaign workers on Chappaquiddick Island.
She left the party shortly after 11, riding with the Senator to catch the last ferry to Edgartown, where she was staying.
Kennedy's 1967 Oldsmobile went off a narrow bridge with no railings…
…and overturned into the water.
Kennedy made it out.
Her body was discovered the next morning. Kennedy then reported the accident.
Not even man's first steps on the moon the next day, July 20th, could calm the controversy.
Kennedy and his wife Joan attended her funeral on July 22nd…
…and he made a statement to Massachusetts voters a week later, after pleading guilty to leaving the scene of an accident
Kennedy got a two month suspended sentence and remained in the U.S Senate, serving for nearly 47 years, the fourth-longest term ever. Kennedy died of cancer in August, 2009 and he's buried near his brothers John and Robert in Virginia's Arlington National Cemetery.
Mary Jo Kopechne is buried in Plymouth, Pennsylvania.