Chappaquiddick Incident - The Party

The Party

On July 18, 1969, U.S. Senator Edward M. "Ted" Kennedy hosted a party on Chappaquiddick, a small island connected via ferry to the town of Edgartown, Massachusetts on the nearby larger island of Martha's Vineyard. The party was a reunion for a group of six women, including Kopechne, known as the "boiler-room girls", who had served in his brother Robert's 1968 presidential campaign. Also present were Joseph Gargan, Ted Kennedy's cousin; Paul F. Markham, a school friend of Gargan's who previously served as the United States Attorney for Massachusetts; Charles Tretter, an attorney; Raymond La Rosa; and John Crimmins, Ted Kennedy's part-time driver. Kennedy was also competing in the Edgartown Yacht Club Regatta, a sailing competition which was taking place over several days.

According to his own testimony at the inquest into Kopechne's death, Kennedy left the party at "approximately 11:15 p.m." He said that when he announced that he was about to leave, Kopechne told him "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 mother's car from his chauffeur, Crimmins. Asked why he did not have his chauffeur drive them both, Kennedy explained that Crimmins along with some other guests "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.

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