Curse of the car crash strikes the Kennedy clan once more

According to police, the 38-year-old Congressman for Rhode Island crashed his Ford Mustang into a security barrier close to the Capitol building at 2.45am.

The report suggested Mr Kennedy was drunk, that his driving ability was impaired and that the car had been travelling at high speed. The Congressman's eyes were said to be red and watery, his speech slurred, and his balance unsure.

Yesterday, Mr Kennedy flatly denied he had been drinking, blaming his condition on two prescription drugs he was taking ­ Phenergan, used to treat gastroenteritis, and the sleeping medication Ambien.

And on the steps of Capitol Hill last night he announced that he was immediately to seek treatment for addiction to prescription pain medication at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

Mr Kenndey was returning to the Capitol at that late hour, he said, because he thought he was required to take part in a vote. "I never asked for any preferential treatment, I am going to co-operate fully with the police."

But the police union has complained that supervisors called to the scene by the reporting officer had not allowed a more detailed investigation, including alcohol tests. A breath test "certainly would have showed he wasn't on anything, wouldn't it?" Lou Cannon, a police union official, toldThe Washington Post.

By common consent, Mr Kennedy has been an effective Congressman for Rhode Island, who has worked hard on mental health issues. But his past has seen troubled episodes, including a spell in drug rehabilitation in 1986, and he was once involved in a scuffle with a security guard at Los Angeles airport. By his own admission, he has also suffered from clinical depression.

The affair adds yet another footnote to the saga of a family that once was America's closest equivalent to royalty, as famous for its tragedies and troubles as for the political achievements of its members.

In political terms, the Kennedys have long since been eclipsed by the Bushes and the Clintons. The clan's last standard-bearer of real stature is 74-year-old Ted, a liberal lion of US politics who has represented Massachusetts in the Senate for 44 years. But he is equally remembered for his two murdered brothers ­ John, the 35th president, and Robert, New York Senator and presidential candidate who was murdered in 1968.

Of course, Ted is also remembered for the car accident in 1969 that ended his own hopes of the presidency. The similarities with events this week are limited but hard to ignore. On 18 July 1969, after a party at Chappaquiddick in Massachusetts, Ted Kennedy drove his car off a low unlit bridge into water. He escaped but the staffer travelling with him, Mary Jo Kopechne, drowned.

That affair became the butt of cruel humour, and this new accident involving Patrick promises more of the same. "A Kennedy, a car accident, and no alcohol ­ now that has never happened," Jay Leno joked on his NBC Tonight show.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Voices
The Palace of Westminster is falling down, according to John Bercow
voices..says Matthew Norman
Sport
Steve Bruce and Gus Poyet clash
football
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Graham Norton said Irish broadcaster RTE’s decision to settle was ‘moronic’
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jake and Dinos Chapman were motivated by revenge to make 'Bring me the Head of Franco Toselli! '
arts + ents Shapero Modern Gallery to show explicit Chapman Brothers film
Arts and Entertainment
Kurt Cobain performing for 'MTV Unplugged' in New York, shortly before his death
music Brett Morgen's 'Cobain: Montage of Heck' debunks many of the myths
Life and Style
life
Sport
Brendan Rodgers
football The Liverpool manager will be the first option after Pep Guardiola
News
Amazon misled consumers about subscription fees, the ASA has ruled
news
Arts and Entertainment
Myanna Buring, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Russell Tovey in 'Banished'
TV Jimmy McGovern tackles 18th-century crime and punishment
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Whitehouse as Herbert
arts + ents
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Lettings and Sales Negotiator - OTE £46,000

£16000 - £46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Home Care Worker - Reading and Surrounding Areas

£9 - £13 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity to join a s...

Recruitment Genius: Key Sales Account Manager - OTE £35,000

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Have you got a proven track rec...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £40,000

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn