Fifty years ago tonight, a young woman lost her life in a car accident in Massachusetts.
Her name was Mary Jo Kopechne. She was 28 years old. She was the passenger in a car that drove off a very narrow bridge and ended up in the water. She was trapped inside, and drowned.
The driver of the car: Massachusetts Senator Edward Kennedy.
The scene of the accident was a small island called Chappaquiddick.
Many believe the Chappaquiddick incident influenced Ted Kennedy’s decision not to run for President in 1972 and 1976,
In the late 1980s, journalist Leo Damore succeeded in breaking through a years-long wall of silence about Chappaquiddick, in a New York Times bestselling book called “Senatorial Privilege.” I talked with him in 1989.
This story ends in more tragedy.
Just six years after this interview, Damore was broke, depressed, about to be evicted from his home. He shot and killed himself in 1995 at the age of 65.
Sen. Ted Kennedy died of brain cancer in 2009, at the age of 77.