MICHELE NORRIS, host:
Congressman Patrick Kennedy said he's checking himself in for rehabilitation at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. The Rhode Island Democrat is son of Massachusetts Senator Edward Kennedy. Patrick Kennedy said he's suffering from drug addiction and depression. He also says that he can't remember an accident early Thursday morning, in which he crashed into a security barrier at the U.S. Capitol. NPR's Brian Naylor has the story.
BRIAN NAYLOR reporting:
According to a police report, at 2:47 a.m. Thursday, Patrick Kennedy was driving at a high rate of speed, his lights off, and narrowly missed colliding with a Capitol Police cruiser before driving into a security barrier near his congressional office. According to the officer who filed the report, Kennedy's eyes were red and watery. His speech slurred and his balance unsteady. Kennedy told the officer he was going to cast a vote. Congress had adjourned hours earlier. Later that day, Kennedy's office released a statement saying the Congressman had taken Ambien, a sleeping pill, and another medication, Phenegrin, an anti-nausea drug. This afternoon at a Capitol Hill news conference, Kennedy read from a statement.
Representative PATRICK KENNEDY (Democrat, Rhode Island): The incident on Wednesday evening concerns me greatly. I simply do not remember getting out of bed, being pulled over by the police, or being cited for three driving infractions. That's not how I want to live my life and it's not how I want to represent the people of Rhode Island.
NAYLOR: Kennedy said he has been struggling with addiction and depression since he was a young man, and that he was now seeking further treatment.
Representative KENNEDY: I am deeply concerned about my reaction to the medication and my lack of knowledge of the accident that evening. But I do know enough that I know that I need help. This afternoon I'm traveling to Minnesota to seek treatment at the Mayo Clinic to insure that I can continue on my road to recovery.
NAYLOR: Kennedy said he had checked himself into the Mayo Clinic over Christmas and returned to work feeling reinvigorated and healthy, adding each day has its ups and downs. Asked if he was planning to resign his office, Kennedy, who is 38, answered, no, adding I need to stay in the fight. Kennedy took no further questions, but many remain about the early morning incident. Kennedy earlier stated he had not consumed any alcohol before the accident. According to the president of the Capitol Police Officer's Union, officers on the scene were stopped from administering a breathalyzer test by supervisory officers who arrived and then proceeded to drive Kennedy home. Fraternal Order of Police President Lou Cannon says Kennedy received special consideration because he is a congressman.
Mr. LOU CANNON (Fraternal Order of Police President): I think the main issue here is that I think the officers on the scene certainly should've been permitted to go ahead and finish what they were doing. And to go ahead and conduct the standard test that you would give to anybody involved in something like this. And that possibly Mr. Kennedy should've been requested to take a breathalyzer. And that may, in fact, have worked out to his benefit in the long run 'cause it could've proved or disproved the fact whether or not he was involved or had taken any, consumed any alcohol.
NAYLOR: The Capitol Police have had no comment on the incident except to say they're continuing their investigation. This is the second run-in Capitol Police officers have had with a member of Congress in recent weeks.
Georgia Democrat Cynthia McKinney allegedly hit an officer with her cell phone after he tried to stop her from entering a building without her Congressional I.D. pin, and without walking through a metal detector. Charges against the congresswoman in that case are still pending. Brian Naylor, NPR News, the Capitol.
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