Saoirse Kennedy Hill’s death the latest in a long list of tragedies for Kennedy family


Saoirse Kennedy Hill died Thursday at the family home in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts. Her mother, Courtney Kennedy Hill, was one of the 11 children of the late presidential candidate and his human rights activist wife, Ethel Kennedy.
“Our hearts are shattered by the loss of our beloved Saoirse. Her life was filled with hope, promise and love,” the family said in a statement without releasing her cause of death. She was 22, CNN affiliate WHDH reported.

The Kennedys have had more than their share of misfortunes. Here are some of the tragedies that have killed prominent family members:

President John F. Kennedy and his brother, Sen. Robert F. Kennedy were both assassinated.

The President was shot in Dallas on November 22, 1963, and the man accused of killing him shot dead as he was being transferred from the Dallas city jail to the county jail days later. The shooting was inadvertently, shown live on TV.
Robert F. Kennedy was fatally shot five years later while campaigning in Los Angeles.
Robert Kennedy and Edward Kennedy with their sister-in-law Jacqueline Kennedy during the funeral of President John F.  Kennedy.

Plane crashes

Two decades ago, a small plane crash killed JFK’s son, John F. Kennedy Jr., his wife, Carolyn Kennedy, and sister-in-law, Lauren Bessette. JFK Jr., who was piloting the plane at night, apparently became disoriented before crashing into the Atlantic off Massachusetts in 1999.

John F. Kennedy Jr. and his wife, Carolyn Kennedy, a few months before they died in a plane crash.

That’s not the only plane crash linked to the family.

In 1964, JFK’s brother, Sen. Edward “Ted” Kennedy, survived a plane crash that killed two people. He was on a campaign flight from Washington to Massachusetts when the plane crashed. The pilot and a legislative aide were killed and Kennedy suffered a broken back and ribs. Federal investigators blamed the crash on pilot error.

Edward 'Ted' Kennedy.
Then there’s a 1944 air disaster that killed President Kennedy’s oldest brother, Joe Kennedy Jr, while he was volunteering to pilot a World War II bombing mission in France. During the secret mission, two in-flight explosions rocked his bomber aircraft, killing both pilots, according to the JFK Presidential Library. The cause of the explosions remain a mystery.
Four years after the family lost him, a small plane crashed during a storm in France in 1948, killing President Kennedy’s sister, Kathleen Kennedy, and three others. She was 28.
Kathleen Kennedy.

A drug overdose

In 1984, David Kennedy, one of Ethel and Robert F. Kennedy’s children, died in a Florida hotel after a drug overdose. He reportedly watched his father’s assassination on live TV as a boy and later struggled with addiction. He was 28.
David Kennedy's body is taken from a funeral home.

A skiing accident

Michael Kennedy, another son of the late Robert F. Kennedy, died in 1997 during a ski accident in Colorado on New Year’s Eve. The New York Times reported that he was tossing a football with relatives while skiing down a mountain. The father of three was 39.
Family members carry the  coffin of Michael Kennedy from church following his death in a skiing accident.

A failed brain surgery

President Kennedy’s sister, Rosemary Kennedy, had part of her brain removed in 1941 in a relatively new procedure known as a prefrontal lobotomy. The family had long described her as “intellectually slow.” The operation only worsened her condition and she was institutionalized until her death in 2005 at age 86.

An infant son dies

In 1963, President Kennedy and first lady Jacqueline Kennedy suffered yet another loss.

They announced the birth of their third child, Patrick, nearly six weeks early. He survived for less than two days and was buried in the family grave site at Arlington National Cemetery near Washington.

The President and first lady Jacqueline Kennedy at the White House in 1963.

A cancer battle

Cancer has also played a role in the Kennedy family tragedies.

In 1973, Ted Kennedy’s 12-year-old son Edward Jr. lost a leg to bone cancer. He later told CNN in 2009 that he rejects the idea of a family curse.

“The Kennedy family has had to endure these things in a very open way. But our family is just like … every other family in America in many ways,” he said.

Doctors diagnosed Ted Kennedy with a malignant brain tumor in 2008 and he had surgery the same year. He died more than a year later at age 77.

CNN’s Thom Patterson contributed to this report.



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