Biden celebrates anniversary of 1972 car crash that killed his wife

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

President Joe Biden arrives at St. Joseph on the Brandywine Catholic Church in Wilmington, Del. On Saturday, December 18, 2021. Today is the anniversary of the deaths of Neilia and Naomi Biden. (AP Photo / Matt Rourke)

GREENVILLE, Del. – President Joe Biden commemorated the 49th anniversary of the car accident that killed his first wife and toddler daughter, visiting their graves at St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church in Brandywine.

Their deaths came just after Delaware voters elected Biden to the Senate in 1972, and the fatal car crash became a defining moment that shaped his personality and career.

Her sons Beau and Hunter, aged just under 4 and 3 at the time, were seriously injured but survived the crash. His wife Neilia and 13-month-old daughter Naomi died after their car was hit while on their way to pick up a Christmas tree.

Tragedy haunted him early in his Senate career and was a touchstone of his presidency, with Biden recently opening a speech in Minnesota noting how two of that state’s former senators helped him cope.

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Biden married Jill Jacobs in 1977 and they added their daughter Ashley to the family. Both joined him at church on Saturday, as did Hunter and his family, among others. Beau died of brain cancer in 2015.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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