Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Passed Away Resulting from Cancer: Poh Nikbar February

Teddy Kennedy

My old college roommate, T-Unit, taught me much in life including his knowledge of Joseph Kennedy—John F. and Edward “Teddy” Kennedy’s father—and how he may have made his fortune from bootlegging. T-Unit also believed that the Kennedy bloodline was part of a secret government. Google combined terms like “Illuminati,” “shadow government” and “Kennedy family” and you’ll have a field day reading conspiracy theories.

T-Unit did not teach me about the Chappaquiddick incident. In 1969, Teddy Kennedy told the police that, earlier that night, he accidentally drove his car off a bridge and left the scene of an accident after causing injury. The “injury” was the death of his female passenger, Mary Jo Kopechne. Kennedy was not charged with anything.

I read many articles on this topic last year after my coworker mentioned the incident. The following is a combination of facts and my interpretation, which, if this blog were more popular, would lead to an angry mob of Kennedy supporters ready to castrate me:

Kennedy and Kopechne—a young campaign worker—were attending a party near Martha’s Vineyard, and left together to engage in extramarital behavior, as Kennedy’s wife was pregnant at the time. Kopechne did not tell anyone about her departure, and Kennedy had asked for the car keys from his chauffeur so as to remain secretive. Their car was spotted on a private road, and then veered onto Dike Road when approached by the deputy sheriff. Teddy had also been drinking alcohol, and did not want to destroy his public image.

Dike Road led to Dike Bridge. The road was unpaved without a guardrail. Kennedy drove right off and into a Pond. He swam out; Kopechne did not.

Kennedy walked back to the party, past several houses where he could have phoned for assistance. He called no one. Back at the party, Kennedy summoned his friends to help retrieve Kopechne, which they were unable to do after swimming underwater several times. Kennedy’s friends encouraged him to report the incident, and did not do so themselves because they had assumed he would. Kennedy did not. Instead, Kennedy “had not given up hope all night long that, by some miracle, Mary Jo would have escaped from the car."

At dawn that morning, two fishermen found the car and called the police. A professional diver was sent to retrieve the body. The diver later testified that an air bubble would have formed around Kopechne, allowing her to “live for at least two hours down there.” Kopechne did not die from the crash or from drowning—she suffocated when she used up all the oxygen in her air pocket in the underwater vehicle.

The medical examiner was satisfied with accidental drowning as the cause of death. The District Attorney’s attempt at a belated autopsy, based on evidence suggesting a form of death other than drowning, was not authorized.

If I still lived with T-Unit then surely he would explain the alternative theory that Kennedy, after being spotted with the young woman, returned to the party and had Mary Jo drive herself home. Unfamiliar with the car and intoxicated, she drove off the bridge by herself and died. This would explain Teddy’s inaction and seeming lack of concern.

…So, in conclusion via this prototypical transition, Teddy was a great person and senator, enduring endless personal tragedies all the while championing social justice. He is the fourth-longest-serving senator in U.S. history. Enacting universal health care was “the cause of my life,” he said.

Teddy was diagnosed with brain cancer in May 2008, and passed away a year later. Teddy had received countless awards and honors, including the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award.
Crash site of Tenny Kennedy