Robert F. Kennedy's 22-Year-Old Granddaughter Dies of Overdose at Family Compound

Saoirse Kennedy Hill (The Kennedy Family Belfast Northern Ireland Page/Facebook)

A 22-year-old granddaughter of the late Robert F. Kennedy died on Thursday following an apparent overdose at the family's compound in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, the family and media reports said.

Saoirse Kennedy Hill was at the compound, the home of her grandmother, Ethel Kennedy, 91, when emergency personnel were called to the residence. She was taken to Cape Cod Hospital in Hyannis, the New York Times said, citing family and friends.

According to the newspaper and other media reports, Hill was pronounced dead at the hospital. A hospital spokeswoman and the Cape and Islands District Attorney's Office declined to confirm the reports to Reuters on Friday.

"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."

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The statement quoted her grandmother, Ethel, as saying: "The world is a little less beautiful today."

A statement from the district attorney's office said police officers been called to the residence for "a report of an unattended death," adding the matter remained under investigation.

The Times cited two unnamed people described as close to the family as saying that Hill had apparently suffered an overdose.

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 U.S. senator for New York, who 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.

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.

© 2019 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.

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