Mary Jo Kopechne


1997 Paradise Pisces

American Accident Victim


On July 18, 1969, the only child of Gwen and Joe Kopechne attended a party on Chappaquiddick Island, near Martha's Vineyard off Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Their daughter, Mary Jo, who at one time wanted to be a nun, instead, had taken an interest in politics.

The party was for former Robert Kennedy campaign workers, held at the home of a Kennedy cousin. At around 11 in the evening, Mary Jo got into an Oldsmobile with Edward Kennedy and left the party. Kennedy, who at 37, was a senator from Massachusetts, was also a likely candidate for the United States presidency in 1972.

Apparently enroute to the ferry landing for a return trip to Martha's Vineyard, the Oldsmobile turned sharply right and off the paved roadway onto a dirt side road. Moments later the Oldsmobile plunged off the narrow Dike Bridge into the ten foot deep Poucha Pond.

What actually happended next is not entirely clear but Mary Jo Kopechne suffocated in the car while Senator Kennedy swam ashore. Strangely, it was ten hours before Kennedy reported the accident to the police.

It is likely that Kennedy was drunk and dazed and sought the advice of family and friends. However, others have speculated that a plan was concocted to protect Kennedy from any criminal ramifications. Leo Damore in his Senatorial Privilege: The Chappaquiddick Coverup suggests that Kennedy initially wanted to claim that Mary Jo was alone.

There were the usual rumors that the married Senator was perhaps acting inappropriately with the single Ms. Kopechne. When Kennedy went on national television to provide his side of the story he was emphatic:

"There is no truth, no truth whatever, to the widely circulated suspicions of immoral conduct..."

Mary Jo's mother, Gwen, has said:
"We heard a lot of things,but we can't do anything about them...My daughter is not here to defend herself, so we just have to bear it...I know my girl. By 11 o'clock, all she thought about was going home and going to bed. She was an early bird."

But why the right turn off the road?

Kennedy pleaded guilty to a charge of leaving the scene of an accident, received a two-month suspended sentence and his license was revoked for a year.

The Kopechne's have said that they never received a personal apology from the Senator. However, his insurance company did pay them $140,923 for the loss of their only child.

Kopechne is a rookie

1997 Paradise Pisces Roster

Mary Jo Kopechne- Cosmic Baseball Player Plate
Published: October 30, 1996

© 1996, 1997 by the Cosmic Baseball Association