Her political career seemed to be taking off. Please enter a Recipient Address and/or check the Send me a copy checkbox. And if so, with whom? That was their last job for him.”. In the upcoming movie Chappaquiddick, Kate Mara plays Mary Jo Kopechne, who died after Ted Kennedy’s car plunged upside down into a tidal pond. All material on this website is protected by copyright, Copyright © 1994-2020 by WebMD LLC. Had she recently had sexual intercourse? “There were all the innuendoes they were having an affair, or something salacious going on,” says Potoski, “but if you knew who she was, you’d know that didn’t happen. Medscape Internal Medicine © 2018  WebMD, LLC. Or was it due to influence by a very powerful political family concerned about what [the details] might disclose? Did she suffer brain damage from the collision of car with water? She also remembers how her niece “loved to jitterbug and she loved the Brooklyn Dodgers, she was a bit of a tomboy.” She also relished her career in Washington. Kopechne was assigned Pennsylvania, and she invested long hours working for RFK, doing everything in her power to guarantee his presidency. Many questions surrounding the tragic end of her life remain unanswered. If you log out, you will be required to enter your username and password the next time you visit. “They called him the office boy,” she says. There was no autopsy. The reasons why it was Ted who ended up offering Kopechne a ride in his car —and why she left behind her purse at the party — remain a mystery. In the upcoming movie Chappaquiddick, Kate Mara plays Mary Jo Kopechne, who died after Ted Kennedy’s car plunged upside down into a tidal pond. What could have been the value of a properly performed autopsy in preventing some of the subsequent confusion? Note the neck brace inside his collar. If you would like to opt out of browser push notifications, please refer to the following instructions specific to your device and browser: this link is to an external site that may or may not meet accessibility guidelines. Was she pregnant? Fox Says He and His Wife of 32 Years Tracy Pollan Laugh Every Day ‘for a Good 2 Minutes’, Foster Dad, 29, Adopts 5 Siblings After Refusing to Keep Them Separated: 'They Give Me Purpose', The Sweetest Photos of Princes Harry with Diana, First-Time Voters Across the Country Share Why the 2020 Election Matters to Them. A major political dynasty was diverted by the event and its aftermath. What happened from their seemingly unobserved departure from the party—sometime between 11:15 PM and 12:45 AM—until the next morning, when fishermen accidentally discovered an overturned, sunken car containing her body in the area of the back seat, remains murky and under dispute. The impact of the aftermath in Kennedy’s life is often talked about, with Kopechne reduced to just his rumored lover. Was the decision not to perform an autopsy on the body of Mary Jo Kopechne a result of ignorance on the part of an authority, primarily Dr Donald Mills? Chappaquiddick pays more attention to Kopechne's own life, but Esther Newberg, who worked with Kopechne as one of Robert F. Kennedy’s “Boiler Room Girls” and was with her hours before her tragic death, criticized the film in an interview with People. The Kennedys are no strangers to tragedy and controversy, but the Chappaquiddick incident involving the late Ted Kennedy remains one of the most talked about scandals decades later. [2] The body was quickly shipped to another state for burial. I am Dr George Lundberg and this is At Large at Medscape. She and some of her co-workers were given the task of cleaning out his office. Coyote Ugly Turns 20: Where Is the Cast Now? You will receive email when new content is published. Ischemic Stroke May Hint at Underlying Cancer, Topol: US Betrays Healthcare Workers in Coronavirus Disaster, The 6 Dietary Tips Patients Need to Hear From Their Clinicians. Credit: Chappaquiddick, a new movie opening April 6 that explores the events of that night and the week that followed — when Kennedy pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident — has once again brought questions about what happened that evening to the forefront. Over the years, much of Kopechne’s life story has been distorted to create salacious stories, diminishing her to a young mistress who was enamored by the Kennedys, only to lose her life to one of the family's famous siblings. ANL/REX/Shutterstock, Mary Jo Kopechne with her parents, Gwen and Joe in their 1946 Christmas Card, | Remember these lessons the next time you are confronted with a death, especially if it's sudden, unexpected, and unwitnessed. “She was charming, she was funny, she was a little uptight,” says Potoski with a smile. Mary Jo, who worked for RFK for four years, was in Chappaquiddick, off Martha’s Vineyard, that weekend for a reunion party for her fellow campaign workers — known as the “Boiler Room Girls,” and nicknamed for the campaign office in which they worked. If you are an American above the age of 65, you will immediately recognize that name. My pathology colleagues and I discussed this actively at that time, and Harry Nelson wrote an article published in the Los Angeles Times on July 31, 1969, about why autopsy should (still) be done. After her death, Mary Jo’s parents, Gwen and Joe Kopechne, were “crushed” by rumors about their daughter and Sen. Kennedy that followed the accident. Consulting Professor, Health Research Policy, Pathology, Stanford University, Palo Alto, CaliforniaDisclosure: George D. Lundberg, MD, has disclosed the following relevant financial relationships:Serve(d) as a director, officer, partner, employee, advisor, consultant, or trustee for: CollabRxReceived income in an amount equal to or greater than $250 from: New York Times. 2020 Bustle Digital Group. She playing a key role in helping to write RFK's speech announcing his candidacy. She then moved back to D.C. and began working for Matt Reese Associates, one of the first political consulting companies. Any views expressed above are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of WebMD or Medscape. Mary Jo Kopechne's aunt tells PEOPLE her niece "wasn't particularly fond" of Ted Kennedy — and he was nicknamed "office boy". Did she die of suffocation in a diminishing air bubble before her head became immersed in water, and how long did she survive in the overturned car? In July 1969, two days before man took his first steps on the moon on July 20, this 27-year-old white, single, female political worker was found dead, alone, under water, in an overturned Oldsmobile sedan, just off a bridge on Chappaquiddick Island near Cape Cod, Massachusetts, under—still, now 49 years later—mysterious circumstances. Cite this: George D. Lundberg. In fact, in an interview from 1991, Kopechne’s cousin, Georgetta Potoski revealed that Kopechne didn’t have as close of a bond with Ted Kennedy as with his brother. NEW YORK -- After 20 years of silence, the parents of Mary Jo Kopechne say the only satisfaction they received in the aftermath of their daughter's drowning at Chappaquiddick is that it … She was thinking of getting engaged, but no one came out to defend her, and her parents were broken — and they just retreated.”. Get push notifications with news, features and more. So, what did the autopsy reveal? Please see our. For nearly five decades, little was known about Mary Jo Kopechne, the 28-year-old campaign worker for Robert F. Kennedy who tragically died when the Oldsmobile Delmont 88 driven by his younger brother, Ted, went off a small wooden bridge in Chappaquiddick on July 18, 1969 — and she was left trapped inside. Text us for exclusive photos and videos, royal news, and way more. She adds that Mary Jo “wasn’t particularly fond” of Ted Kennedy. What Did the Autopsy of Mary Jo Kopechne Reveal? “For 49 years people have wanted to know what happened,” Mary Jo’s aunt Georgetta Potoski, 75, says in an exclusive interview in this week’s PEOPLE. What was the source of the blood described by witnesses on her clothing? She was devoted to Bobby. “If you knew a dirty joke, you didn’t tell it to Mary Jo.”, RELATED VIDEO: Jackie Kennedy Ironically Got Help From Marilyn Monroe’s Therapist During Her Darkest Days. However, she does hope that the film will help bring attention to Kopechne’s legacy, beyond being the “blonde secretary” and rumored romantic interest to Kennedy. To comment please, Comments on Medscape are moderated and should be professional in tone and on topic. [3] Without autopsy, these questions, and perhaps many others, are left unanswered and add to the intrigue and the suspicion of a long-term cover-up. Credit: Credit: Courtesy Georgetta Nelson Potoski, Jason Clarke stars as ‘Ted Kennedy’ and Kate Mara as ‘Mary Jo Kopechne’ in Chappaquiddick, | She was then was transferred to work for Senator Robert F. Kennedy upon his election in the following year. Was her neck broken when the car landed upside down on the pond bottom? They didn’t have a leader anymore.”, Afterwards, she says Mary Jo “was trying to figure out what to do and how to process the brutality of what had happened to the Kennedy family. “Maybe now Mary Jo will be brought to the forefront and remembered not just for how she died but for who she was.”, Potoski and her son, William Nelson, 46, hope the film will convey something about the real Mary Jo, who was reduced at the time to what William calls “the quote-unquote ‘Girl in the Car.’ ”. RFK seemed to be headed towards securing the nomination of Democratic presidential candidate, winning the California and South Dakota presidential primaries, until he was tragically murdered at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. Chappaquiddick recounts how, after working in Alabama as a teacher at the Mission of St. Jude, she decided to relocate to Washington, D.C., working for Florida Senator George A. Smathers in 1963. This website also contains material copyrighted by 3rd parties. [1] She is said to have left the party, ostensibly to be driven back to her motel in Edgartown, Massachusetts, by Senator Edward Kennedy. Hello and welcome. “JFK’s idea of ‘ What you can do for your country,’ she really tried to do that. She also launched a scholarship in her name at Misericordia College, to be given out for the first time this year. This campaign involved a staff of five young women, including Kopechne, called “The Boiler Room Girls,” who had the responsibility of direct communication with each state director in the region they were assigned. “They believed they had a mission and it was catastrophic when he was killed because everything they believed in all of a sudden was gone. She wrote up all his personal correspondence and typed up his declaration to run for President.”, Potoski also says “Mary Jo was devastated by his assassination.”, “[Mary Jo and her co-workers] loved him and they loved Ethel and the kids,” Potoski continues.

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