Washington, D.C., Senator Joe Biden has been a headliner in the news all week after Presidential nominee Barack Obama selected the Pennsylvania-born politician as his choice for Vice President early on Saturday morning. Biden has a long and distinguished history in the Senate representing his state of Delaware, but few know of the tragedy that struck his life just five weeks after he was elected to the Senate in 1972 at age 30.
While Biden was preparing to be sworn in and start his new life as a Delaware representative in December of 1972, his wife of six years, Neilia, and his three children, Beau, Hunter, and infant Naomi drove to do some Christmas shopping and pick up a Christmas tree.
At the same time, a tractor-trailer driven by Curtis C. Dunn, 43, or Kaolin, PA, was approaching Limestone Road and headed toward Pennsylvania. The truck sideswiped the family’s station wagon, seriously injuring all who were inside. Neilia and Naomi died at the scene, while Hunter suffered from head injuries and Beau suffered a shattered leg. The car spun out for 150 feet, while the truck, which was carrying corncobs, went 30 feet and landed on its side. Dunn was not seriously hurt.
Although there have been some allegations that the truck driver “drank his lunch,” no charges were filed. A short investigation of the accident showed no speeding, drinking, or faulty equipment caused the crash, although Biden did not pursue the case to the fullest extent of the law in the weeks following the accident. There is some speculation that Neilia was distracted by the children and either accelerated or drifted through the intersection, though this cannot be confirmed 35 years later any more than whether or not the truck driver was at fault.
Joe Biden was sworn into office mere weeks after the crash. Instead of the ceremony taking place at the capital, as usual, he took his oath in the hospital, next to the beds of his two injured sons. Both Hunter and Beau made full recoveries and now lead normal and successful lives.
Biden remarried five years later, to Jill Tracy Jacobs, and the couple had a daughter, Ashley. Strangely, Jill was also involved in a truck accident on February 1, 2008. She was traveling along I-95 at ten in the morning, when a truck switched lanes and slammed into her car. She suffered minor injuries, which were treated at Christiana Hospital. The truck driver, Duane Vanderbosh, was cited for careless driving. A blind spot in the trucker’s view may have played a part in the crash.
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