Ted Kennedy: What Really Happened at Chappaquiddick


Directed by John Curran (1994)

Film Review

This documentary re-examines the 1969 inquest into the death of Mary Jo Kopechne. Kopechne was a campaign worker for late Senator Ted Kennedy, who allegedly drowned when a rental car he was driving went off an unlit bridge on Chappaquiddick Island in Massachusetts. At the time Kennedy came under heavy criticism for fleeing the scene and leaving Kopechne to drown. He ultimately pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident, for which he received a two-month suspended sentence and one year of probation.

The film attempts to resolve longstanding inconsistencies in Kennedy’s version of events. When the evidence presented at the inquest is re-examined, key analysts come up with a surprising conclusion: that Kopechne (driving) was alone in the car when it dove off the bridge.

The lead police investigator at beleives Kennedy got out of the parked car after they were spotted on a secluded road by a sheriff’s deputy – that he didn’t learn about Kopechne’s fatal accident until the next morning. After consulting with his lawyer and political advisor, he would concoct a lie about being the vehicle’s driver.

His goal, according to the investigator, was to forestall a full investigation into an incident which presumably involved extramarital sexual activity. After watching the film, this conclusion makes sense to me.


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