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Kennedy ‘curse’: RFK granddaughter’s death the latest in list of family’s tragedies

The J.F.K. Assassination: A Cast of Characters

As new documents about the killing of President John F. Kennedy are released, The New York Times's Peter Baker walks us through who’s who in this American tragedy.
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As new documents about the killing of President John F. Kennedy are released, The New York Times's Peter Baker walks us through who’s who in this American tragedy.

The Kennedy family announced Thursday that Robert F. Kennedy’s granddaughter, Saoirse Kennedy Hill, 22, died at the family’s famous compound in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, according to the Associated Press.

She apparently suffered a fatal overdose in the afternoon, with local police saying they received “a report of an unattended death” that “remains under investigation,” The New York Times reports.

It’s the latest early, tragic death in a storied political dynasty that stretches back to President John F. Kennedy, who was assassinated in 1963 on a visit to Dallas, Texas, when he was 46 years old. The former president’s brother and Saoirse’s grandfather, Robert F. Kennedy, was assassinated just years later in 1968 in Los Angeles during his own presidential run.

More recently, 51-year-old Kara Kennedy, the daughter of longtime Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, died in 2011 following a workout at a health club in the Washington, D.C., area, according to The New York Times.

In 2012, Mary Richardson Kennedy, the estranged wife of Robert F. Kennedy Jr., was found dead in what appeared to be a suicide, ABC news reported in an article on “the Kennedy Curse,” calling the death “another sad event in the long arc of the Kennedy family’s story.”

Other family tragedies include the plane crash that killed President Kennedy’s sister, Kathleen Cavendish, in 1948, and the plane crash that killed John F. Kennedy Jr., the president’s son, in 1999 along with his wife and sister-in-law, according to the Times.

About a year before that deadly crash into the Atlantic near Martha’s Vineyard, Michael Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy’s 39-year-old son, died in a skiing accident on the slopes in Aspen, Colorado, according to the Associated Press.

Saoirse Kennedy Hill’s father was Paul Michael Hill, and her mother, Courtney, was the fifth child of Robert and Ethel Kennedy, according to AP.

Ethel Kennedy, her 91-year-old grandmother, said in a statement that “the world is a little less beautiful today,” according to CBS.

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Jared Gilmour is a McClatchy national reporter based in San Francisco. He covers everything from health and science to politics and crime. He studied journalism at Northwestern University and grew up in North Dakota.
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