I had never read about this. Holy Cow:
It had been two hours since the accident. Gargan drove to the ferry landing — steps from a working payphone. The night was still, the narrow inlet calm as glass.
All kinds of theories would surface about what the men said then: that Kennedy wanted to tell the police that Kopechne was driving; that he asked his cousin Joe to take the rap.
Kennedy denied every story. But later, in his testimony, he acknowledged the powerful, dreamlike longing that came over him that night, the “wish and desire and the hope that suddenly this whole accident would disappear.”
He thought about the phone calls he would have to make, to Mary Jo’s mother, to his own parents. And somewhere in the man who had already borne so much, the will to do the right thing bent and buckled.
Maybe, he thought, Kopechne had escaped. Maybe she was back at the cottage. Meanwhile, Gargan and Markham were insisting he report the accident.
When the senator stood and gave his orders, they were simple and direct: “You take care of the girls; I will take care of the accident.”
But Kennedy went back to his room. He did not go to police.
In the morning, he confessed to his friends that he “couldn’t gain . . . the moral strength to call Mrs. Kopechne at 2 in the morning and tell her that her daughter was dead.” He said he’d hoped the rising sun would erase the night’s events.
But it was no bad dream, the mess he’d left on Chappaquiddick.