Sunday, July 18, 2010

IT HAPPENED TONIGHT, 41-YEARS-AGO--RIP MARY JO

At the beginning of the 1960's, John Kennedy set a goal of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely. At the end of the 1960's, Ted Kennedy got drunk, drove his car off a bridge, killing Mary Jo Kopechne. At the very same time, Apollo 11 was nearing the moon, preparing for a July 20 landing, thus fulfilling half of John Kennedy's goal. You could write the script but Hollywood wouldn't believe it. Too much "suspension of belief" required. Audiences wouldn't buy it. Yet, they did.

Here's one of those parts that's not believable: 3 lawyers know of the accident, return to the scene, return home... and during that time not one of these lawyers picks up a phone to notify the authorities that there's a person trapped underwater in a car. These men--two of them anyway--are officers of the court.

"The details of the evening vary, depending on whose version of the facts one reads. The basic facts are these: Ted Kennedy and Mary Jo Kopechne left the Lawrence Cottage together. Ted Kennedy was the only one to return. According to Ted, he failed to negotiate the sharp right hand turn onto Main Street (Chappaquiddick Rd) and instead headed left onto Dike Road, then off the bridge. He dove into the water to try to rescue her, but failed in his numerous attempts to extract her from the car. He walked 15 minutes back to Lawrence Cottage to fetch Gargan and former US Attorney, Paul Markham. The three of them returned to the site of the crash and Markham and Gargan tried to rescue Mary Jo, but found the currents too strong.

"According to Gargan, Kennedy and Kopechne left together and when Kennedy returned to Lawrence Cottage, told Gargan that he had an accident and told him of the car going over the side of the bridge. Kennedy directed Gargan and Markham to the location and waited while they attempted to rescue Kopechne. When they discovered rescue would be impossible, Gargan insisted, repeatedly, to Kennedy to contact the police. After about 20 minutes of Gargan’s insistence, Kennedy bolted from the car and swam the channel (approximately 500 yards) from Chappaquiddick to Edgartown where he had a room at the Inn. Gargan assumed that Kennedy would contact the police from that location."--link.

Why do I think that Gargan and Markham went on to wonderful careers, raised wonderful families, enjoyed wonderful retirements and grandchildren? All the things Mary Jo would never have.


Tonight, 41-years-ago, Mary Jo Kopechne would prepare for a party on Martha's Vineyard that would end very badly for her... and her family. Ted would be ok.



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