3 Aug 2019

Granddaughter of Robert F. Kennedy dies after apparent overdose

6:49 am on 3 August 2019

One of the granddaughters of the late Robert F. Kennedy died on Thursday after an apparent drug overdose at the family's compound in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, the family said.

RFK grandchildren (L-R) Saoirse Kennedy Hill, Mariah Kennedy Cuomo and Cara Kennedy Cuomo in 2006 in New York City.

RFK grandchildren (L-R) Saoirse Kennedy Hill, Mariah Kennedy Cuomo and Cara Kennedy Cuomo in 2006 in New York City. Photo: AFP

Saoirse Kennedy Hill, 22, was at the compound, the home of her grandmother Ethel Kennedy, when emergency personnel were summoned. She was taken to Cape Cod Hospital in Hyannis where she was pronounced dead, according to the Cape and Islands District Attorney's office.

"Our hearts are shattered by the loss of our beloved Saoirse," the Robert F. Kennedy family said in a statement. "Her life was filled with hope, promise and love."

The statement quoted her 91-year-old grandmother as saying: "The world is a little less beautiful today."

A statement from the district attorney's office said police officers had been called to the compound for "an unresponsive female, later identified as Saoirse Kennedy Hill."

Two unnamed people described as close to the family were cited as saying that Ms Hill had apparently suffered an overdose, the New York Times reported.

Reuters could not confirm the cause of death with the hospital, authorities or the district attorney's office on Friday.

Ms Hill was a student at Boston College, where she was a communications major and vice president of the Student Democrats, according to the Times.

The newspaper said she had written about struggling with mental illness while a student at a private preparatory school in Massachusetts, the Deerfield Academy, in 2016.

She was the only child of Paul Michael Hill and Courtney Kennedy Hill, who was the fifth of 11 children of Ethel and Robert Kennedy. Paul Michael Hill was one of the Guildford Four, a group of men wrongly convicted of bombings carried out by the Irish Republican Army in 1974.

Ethel Kennedy has endured a series of tragedies that have befallen her extended family, including the assassination of her husband, then a US senator for New York. Robert Kennedy was shot to death in Los Angeles just after winning the California primary race for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1968.

Two of Robert and Ethel's sons suffered untimely deaths - David, of a drug overdose in 1984 at age 28 and Michael in 1997 at age 39.

Robert Kennedy's older brother, President John F. Kennedy, was himself assassinated in 1963 in Dallas, and his son, John Jr., died with his wife and sister-in-law in 1999 when the plane he was piloting crashed in the Atlantic off Martha's Vineyard, not far from Hyannis Port.

Ms Hill's death comes weeks after the 50th anniversary of a scandal relating to a fatal car accident in which Robert Kennedy's younger brother, Senator Edward Kennedy, drove off a bridge connecting the tiny island of Chappaquiddick to Martha's Vineyard, killing his passenger, Mary Jo Kopechne.

The murky circumstances of that crash effectively dashed Edward Kennedy's presidential ambitions.

- Reuters