Kennedy Blames Accident on Sleep Medicine

By ANDREW MIGA
The Associated Press
Thursday, May 4, 2006; 11:04 PM

WASHINGTON -- Rep. Patrick Kennedy crashed his car near the Capitol early Thursday, and a police official said he appeared intoxicated. Kennedy said he had taken sleep medication and a prescription anti-nausea drug that can cause drowsiness.

Kennedy, D-R.I., addressed the issue after a spate of news reports. His initial statement said, "I consumed no alcohol prior to the incident."

Later, however, he issued a longer statement saying the attending physician for Congress had prescribed Phenergan on Tuesday to treat Kennedy's gastroenteritis, an inflammation of the stomach and intestines.

Kennedy said he returned to his Capitol Hill home on Wednesday evening after a final series of votes in Congress and took "prescribed" amounts of Phenergan and Ambien, another prescribed drug that he occasionally takes to fall asleep.

"Some time around 2:45 a.m., I drove the few blocks to the Capitol Complex believing I needed to vote," his second statement said. "Apparently, I was disoriented from the medication."

In the later statement, he repeated, "At no time before the incident did I consume any alcohol."

Kennedy appeared to be intoxicated when he crashed his Ford Mustang into a barrier on Capitol Hill early Thursday morning, said Louis P. Cannon, president of the Washington chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police.

Cannon, who was not there, said the officers involved in the accident were instructed by an official "above the rank of patrolman" to take Kennedy home.

No sobriety tests were conducted at the scene.

A letter written by a Capitol Police officer to Acting Chief Christopher McGaffin said Kennedy appeared to be staggering when he left the vehicle after the crash about 3 a.m. The letter was first reported by Roll Call, a Capitol Hill newspaper.

Kennedy said he was late for a vote, officer Greg Baird said in the letter to McGaffin. Baird is acting chairman of the Capitol Hill chapter of the FOP police union. The last vote of the night had occurred almost six hours earlier.

Kennedy said he was driven home by Capitol police.


CONTINUED     1        >

© 2006 The Associated Press