‘Craven’: Teddy Kennedy Wanted To Say Mary Jo Kopechne Was Driving At Chappaquiddick, Book Says

‘Craven’: Teddy Kennedy Wanted To Say Mary Jo Kopechne Was Driving At Chappaquiddick, Book Says

A new book alleges that after Ted Kennedy left his car and his passenger, Mary Jo Kopechne, in a pond off of Chappaquiddick Island, where Kopechne drowned, he returned to the party they had attended and told his close friends he wanted to say Kopechne was driving the car.

Former Boston Globe journalist John Farrell’s new book, “Ted Kennedy: A Life,” draws on information from the private diaries of famed historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr., a close friend of the Kennedy family.

“Kennedy’s subsequent behavior qualified as craven,” Farrell writes of Kennedy’s actions after he drove off Dike Bridge and into Poucha Pond, where he escaped the sunken car as Kopechne was trapped inside.

“Kennedy got to his feet and jogged and stumbled back to the party,” Farrell writes.

Reaching the party, Farrell continues, Kennedy did not alert the other women at the party, but instead crawled into a car in the driveway and asked for two lawyer friends, his cousin Joseph Gargan and Paul Markham, to be brought to him. Once they arrived, the three men took off for the pond; Kopechne had been in the car under water for over 30 minutes.

Although Gargan and Markham dove into the water to see if they could rescue her, Kennedy, according to Farrell, “was no help at all,” lying on the bridge while “moaning and rocking.”

Farrell writes that after the abortive attempt, Kennedy thought of how to hide what had happened. “Why, he asked Gargan and Markham, did the world have to know he was driving the car? Couldn’t Mary Jo have driven off the bridge herself?”

As Kennedy and the two men sat at the ferry landing, Farrell writes, Kennedy told them, “You take care of the girls,” referring to the other young women at the party. “I will take care of the accident.” He swam across the harbor, leaving the two men assuming he was heading to the police station or reporting the accident to someone so he could turn himself in.

At roughly 2 a.m., Kennedy appeared “dry and dressed” to ask the clerk at the Shiretown Inn for the time, then later joined two friends for a chat, Farrell states. By the time he saw the two lawyers the next morning, he still insisted, “I’m going to tell them Mary Jo was driving.”

“In retrospect, Kennedy’s behavior looks like the actions of a man who wants to establish an alibi as his friends concoct a story that absolves him,” Farrell writes. “Or alternatively, a drunk driver waiting for the alcohol in his bloodstream to diminish.”

“It … encouraged suspicions — especially that he might have been drunk and postponed reporting the accident until the alcohol could be absorbed in his system,” Schlesinger wrote.