Michael Kennedy killed in skiing accident in Aspen

Mr Michael Kennedy, son of Ethel and the late Senator Robert F. Kennedy, was killed around 4:15 p.m

Mr Michael Kennedy, son of Ethel and the late Senator Robert F. Kennedy, was killed around 4:15 p.m. on New Year's Eve, while skiing with members of his family in Aspen, Colorado, when he crashed into a tree. A ski patrol reached him in four minutes, according to a public announcement, treated him at the scene and brought him to the foot of the 11,212 ft mountain.

He was taken by ambulance to Aspen Valley Hospital, a mile-and-a-half away. He was pronounced dead one hour later.

The sixth of Robert and Ethel Kennedy's 11 children, Michael was 39. He is the second son to die in tragic circumstances.

His brother, David, succumbed to a drug overdose in Florida in 1984.


The Kennedys - there were a number of them holidaying in Colorado - reportedly were tossing a football back and forth on the slopes of the Colorado Rockies, and not using ski poles, according to CNN, when the accident happened.

President Bill Clinton, visibly shocked to hear the news, telephoned the Kennedy family to express his condolences, a White House spokesman, Mr Joe Lockhart, said in Hilton Head, South Carolina.

"He called them to express the first lady's and his personal condolences on the death of Michael Kennedy. He said that the first lady's and his thoughts and prayers were with Ethel tonight and the entire Kennedy family as they endured yet another personal tragedy," Mr Lockhart said.

Michael Kennedy is survived by his wife, Victoria, from whom he was separated, and his children, Michael jnr, Kyle and Rory. "It was a great tragedy for the family," Senator Edward Kennedy said. "We loved him and we will miss him very much."

Michael Kennedy headed Citizens Energy Corp, a non-profit organisation that supplies heating fuel to the poor. He managed Senator Edward Kennedy's re-election campaign in 1994.

He also managed the campaign of his brother, Congressman Joe Kennedy, who was running for governor of Massachusetts in last spring's primaries when sensational stories broke in the press of Michael's affair with the family babysitter. It ended Joe Kennedy's run for governor and Michael's expected run for his brother's congressional seat. He left politics.

Michael's wife, Vicky Gifford Kennedy, is the daughter of Frank Gifford, a famous American football player, now ABC Network's chief sports commentator. The double fame kept the scandal going, especially when the Boston Globe reported that the affair began when the babysitter was 14.

It led to the separation of Michael Kennedy and his wife after 16 years of marriage.

The latest tragedy in a family for whom tragedy is almost commonplace, has led to long discussions on television and no doubt will lead to longer articles in the tabloids about "the curse of the Kennedys".

Senator Robert Kennedy was killed by an assassin while running for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1968 when Michael Kennedy was 10.

Hugh Sidey, retired White House correspondent for Time magazine, and a friend of President John F. Kennedy, commented on CNN that despite all the stories and alleged scandals of the Kennedys and all that has been written about John Kennedy's too brief stewardship of the White House, "There is still enormous respect in the United States for his presidency."

He said that the Irish background of the Kennedys "in which they lived on the edge" was also part of their idea that public service was an obligation.