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Michael Kennedy dies in skiing accident

Kennedy December 31, 1997
Web posted at: 10:32 p.m. EST (0332 GMT)

ASPEN, Colorado (CNN) -- Michael Kennedy, the son of the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy who gained notoriety for an alleged affair with his family's baby sitter, was killed Wednesday in a skiing accident in Colorado. He was 39.

In a statement, the Aspen Ski Co., which runs the resort where Kennedy died, said he collided with a tree about 4:15 p.m. (6:15 EST) while skiing with members of his family.

Within about four minutes, the ski patrol was on the scene administering first aid that continued as he was brought to the base of the mountain.

"Ethel Kennedy and her family are mourning the loss of their beloved son Michael who was fatally injured while skiing with his family in Aspen," the statement read.

Michael Kennedy was one of 11 children of the late senator, who was assassinated in 1968, and his wife, Ethel. A Massachusetts resident, he headed Citizens Energy Corp., a nonprofit organization that supplies heating fuel to the poor, and managed his uncle Edward Kennedy's U.S. Senate re-election campaign in 1994.

His wife, Victoria, is the daughter of sportscaster Frank Gifford. The couple had three children.

Michael Kennedy

Last spring, Michael Kennedy became enmeshed in a very public scandal after he allegedly had an affair with his family's 14-year-old baby sitter.

Despite the fact that sex with a minor constitutes statutory rape in Massachusetts, no charges were filed against Kennedy after the baby sitter refused to cooperate with prosecutors.

But the resulting wave of bad publicity for the legendary political family led his brother, U.S. Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy II, to withdraw from the 1998 Massachusetts governor's race.

In the wake of the incident, Michael Kennedy and his wife announced they were separating. But recent reports said they had reconciled.

Kennedy said earlier this year he was undergoing treatment for alcoholism. In a statement after the investigation was dropped, he said only that he made serious mistakes.

Kennedy was the second of the late senator's children to die under tragic circumstances. His brother, David, died in Florida in 1984 of a drug overdose.

The Kennedy family has had a long history of tragic, untimely deaths. Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1968, and his brother President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963.

Prior to that, the late president's sister, Kathleen, was killed in a plane crash, and his brother, Joe, was shot down over occupied Europe during World War II.


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