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Edward Kennedy arriving for Mary Jo Kopechne’s
funeral, Plymouth, PA, 1969

John Loengard © Time Inc.

Edward Kennedy, 37-year-old senator from Massachusetts, was heir apparent to the presidency. I photographed him throughout May and June in 1969. The pictures were about to go to press on July 19, when Kennedy drove his car off the bridge between Chappaquiddick and Martha's Vineyard islands. Mary Jo Kopechne, in the back seat, drowned. The senator waited eight hours to report the accident; then went into seclusion. Everyone had questions. Kennedy would not appear in public until Kopechne’s funeral in Pennsylvania, three days later. The occasion was different from earlier public events I'd attended with Senator Kennedy. It was big news. There was competition. We all tried to guess the best place to be standing when he arrived. My guess? Kennedy's press secretary told me the Senator would ride beside the driver in the car, as usual. I chose to be on Kennedy's side as he arrived at the church. Depite his neck brace, he leapt from the car and quickly turned to help his wife and others exit from the back. The moment was a taut footnote to the political history of the United States.

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