Paper reports Ted Kennedy in car accident; Mary Jo Kopechne dies
i 1 P Senator faces charge by police ieeing together the Keume ji ueeuueud i s sss By RICHARD HARWOOD and PAUL BLACKWELL Washington Post Service WASHINGTON A car driven by Sen. Edward Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., D-Mass., D-Mass., plunged off a narrow bridge on Chappaquiddick Island, Mass., about midnight Friday, killing his woman companion. She was indentified by Kennedy as Mary Jo Kopechne of Washington, a 23-year-old 23-year-old 23-year-old 23-year-old 23-year-old political campaign worker who was spending the weekend on nearby Martha's Martha's Vineyard Island. The Senator was physically uninjured in the accident But his political career may have been gravely damaged. NEARLY NINE HOURS went by before Kennedy "exhausted and in a state of shock" walked into the police headquarters headquarters at Edgartown on Martha's Vineyard to report what had happened. From Kennedy's statement to police and from other sources, this story emerged: The senator flew up to Martha's Vineyard Vineyard from Washington Friday to take part in the annual Edgartown sailing regatta, and to join his wife and family on Hyannis-port Hyannis-port Hyannis-port this weekend. Miss Kopechne, once a secretary to the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, had gone up to Martha's Vineyard the day before with five girl friends to spend a weekend at the beach. After sailing in the regatta, Kennedy went to Chappaquiddick to spend the evening evening at a cottage with friends, whose identities identities have not been disclosed. Miss Kopechne Kopechne was among those at the gathering. BETWEEN 11 P.M. and midnight, Kennedy Kennedy left the cottage in his own car to re-Hurn re-Hurn re-Hurn to his" room atrthe Shiretown Inn at 'Edgartown... . - , Miss Kopechne, who was staying at another another hotel at Edgartown, was with him. As Kennedy approached the road leading leading -to -to the ferry that connects Chappaquid dick Island with Martha's Vineyard, he made a wrong turn. After driving about a half-mile, half-mile, half-mile, he came to a small bridge that spans an inlet. The bridge is only 10 feet wide, has no railings, and is used primarily by fishermen traveling in jeeps and beach buggies. The car went eff the bridge and, according according to Kennedy's statement to police, "turned over and sank into the water and landed with the roof resting on the bottom. "I attempted to open the door and window window of the car but have no recollection cf how I got out of the car," he said. "I came to the surface and then repeatedly repeatedly dove down to the car in an attempt to see if the passenger was still in the car. I was unsuccessful in the attempt. I was exhausted exhausted and in a state of shock." AFTER ABANDONING his efforts to rescue Miss Kopechne, the senator said he walked to the cottage, where he had spent EDGARTOWN, Mass. (UPI) Police said late last night Senator Kennedy would be charged with leaving the scene of an accident. the evening. His friends, he said, were having having dinner, and he got into the back seat of a car parked at the cottage. Later, one of his friends drove him back to Edgartown, where Kennedy recalled "walking around for a period of time and then going back to my hotel room." At about 8:20 a.m., Edgartown Police Chief Dominick Arena got a call from Mrs. Pierre Maulm, whose house on Chappaquiddick Chappaquiddick is about 100 yards from the accident accident scene. She reported an overturned car in the water. It was submerged, except for the wheels. The medical examiner at Edgartown, Dr. Donald Mills, said Miss Kopechne died from drowning. She was dressed in a white blouse and black slacks. EDGARTOWN, Mass. (UPI) The medical medical examiner here said Miss Kopechne's body was found in the back seat of the car. The car doors were closed, but the window s looked as if they has been "blown open," he said. E. - - "- "- -3 -3 SEVERAL ASPECTS of the incident remained remained unexplained last night. There was no explanation, for example, of the nine-hour nine-hour nine-hour lapse between the time the accident occurred and Kennedy's first contact with police. The ferry between Chappaquiddick and Martha's Vineyard closes at midnight and reopens at 7:30 a.m. but there is telephone service between the two islands and it is not difficult, according to residents, to make the trip by private boat. It is also uncertain from Kennedy's statement and from police reports at what time Kennedy returned to Martha's Vineyard Vineyard or how long he remained in his hotel until going to police headquarters. The duration of the senator's acquaintanceship acquaintanceship with Miss Kopechne is likewise not known. , FRIENDS SAID she was graduated in 1962 from Caldwell College, N.J., and came to Washington as a secretary in the office of former Sen. George Smathers of Florida. In 1964 or 1965, they said, she went to work as a secretary in the office of Robert Kennedy Kennedy and worked in his campaign last year until his death. In recent months she has worked for a Washington political consultant, consultant, Matt Reese, who also was associated with the Robert Kennedy campaign. . She lived with several friends in Georgetown. Georgetown. One of her roommates, Margaret Carroll, said Miss Kopechne's circle of friends included a number of people on Edward Edward Kennedy's staff. The senator personally notified Miss Kopechne's Kopechne's family of the accident yesterday morning. UPI Raaicpnoto from Flies Miss Kopechne, in 1S62 photo. AFTER LEAVING Martha's Vineyard, he remained in seclusion at his Hyannis-port Hyannis-port Hyannis-port home yesterday. When he appeared at the police station yesterday, he was accompanied accompanied by a lawyer, former U.S. Dist. Atty. Paul Markham, and by a cousin, Joseph Gargan. Police Chief Arena said there was no evidence of speeding by Kennedy, and he considered the incident "strictly a motor vehicle accident." Arena said he had questioned Kennedy about the accident and "I was satisfied with his answers." But the matter, he said, was "still under investigation as far as failing failing to report the accident is concerned."