On this day July 18, 1969

After a party on Chappaquiddick Island in Massachusetts, United States Senator Ted Kennedy drove his car off a wooden bridge into a tidal channel, killing his passenger Mary Jo Kopechne, a former campaign worker.

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According to his own testimony at the inquest into Kopechne’s death, Kennedy left the party at “approximately 11:15 p.m.” When he announced that he was about to leave, Kopechne indicated “that she was desirous of leaving, if I would be kind enough to drop her back at her hotel”. Kennedy then requested the keys to his car from his chauffeur, Crimmins.

Asked why he did not have his chauffeur drive them both, Kennedy explained that Crimmins along with some other partygoers “were concluding their meal, enjoying the fellowship and it didn’t appear to me necessary to require him to bring me back to Edgartown”. Kopechne told no one that she was leaving with Kennedy, and left her purse and hotel key at the party.

Christopher “Huck” Look was a deputy sheriff working as a special police officer at the Edgartown regatta dance that night. At 12:30 am he left the dance, crossed over to Chappaquiddick in the yacht club’s launch, got into his parked car and drove home.

He testified that between 12:30 and 12:45 am he had seen a dark car containing a man driving and a woman in the front seat approaching the intersection with Dike Road.

The car had gone first onto the private Cemetery Road and stopped there. Thinking that the occupants of the car might be lost, Look had gotten out of his car and walked towards it. When he was 25 to 30 feet away, the car started backing up towards him. When Look called out to offer his help, the car took off down Dike Road in a cloud of dust. Look recalled that the car’s license plate began with a “L” and contained the number “7” twice, both details true of Kennedy’s 1967 Oldsmobile Delmont 88.

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