Remembering Mary Jo Kopechne 50 years later

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(WBRE/WYOU) –July 18, 1969. 50 years ago today, Massachusetts senator Ted Kennedy drove his car off of a bridge and into a canal on his way home from a party on Chappaquiddick Island.

While Kennedy survived the crash, his passenger, a Forty Fort native, Mary Jo Kopechne, did not. The incident was a black mark on Kennedy’s political career, one that many believe cost him the presidency.

It was also a tragedy for the Kopechne family. For her family, bitterness has given way to a desire to honor her memory. Last year, Eyewitness News sat down with Kopechne’s relatives.

“She was really smart. She was kind of a mentor for me. I always listened when she talked because she was very serious about life,” Kopechne’s cousin Georgetta Potoski said.

“We had to make a choice. We could keep going down the same dark path of regret and sadness, or we could celebrate her life,” Kopechne’s nephew Bill Nelson said.

Were it not for Chappaquiddick, Kennedy may well have been the Democrat who denied Richard Nixon a second term in 1972.

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