January 20th, 2009
03:50 PM ET
7 years ago

Senator Kennedy collapses at inaugural luncheon

 Kennedy suffered a seizure while dining in the Capitol.

Kennedy suffered a seizure while dining in the Capitol.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Massachusetts, collapsed Tuesday afternoon during a congressional luncheon held for President Barack Obama in the Capitol's Statuary Hall.

Paramedics were called to the scene at 2:35 p.m. ET. Kennedy, who appeared to be suffering from a seizure, was transported to Washington Hospital Center.

He was later alert and talking to family, Washington Hospital Center spokeswoman Paula Faria said.

"Senator Kennedy had a seizure" which "lasted a while," a Republican House member told CNN. The member said Kennedy was still experiencing seizures when he was put in a wheelchair and taken out through the Rayburn room, located to the side of Statuary Hall.

Connecticut Sen. Christopher Dodd, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, and Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch all accompanied Kennedy to the hospital, Hatch told CNN.

"He looked like he was going to be OK," Hatch said.

Obama mentioned Kennedy's condition while speaking at the luncheon.

Kennedy "was there when the Voting Rights Act passed," the new president said. "Along with John Lewis, (he) was a warrior for justice. And so I would be lying to you if I did not say that right now, a part of me is with him. And I think that's true for all of us. This is a joyous time. But it's also a sobering time, and my prayers are with him and his family and (his wife) Vicki."

Kennedy, 76, was first elected to the Senate in 1962.

Also during the luncheon, Sen. Robert Byrd, D-West Virginia, appeared to be experiencing some difficulty, but Capitol Police spokeswoman Kimberly Schneider said he is fine.

Byrd, 91, was first elected in 1958.

Filed under: Inauguration • Ted Kennedy
soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. Jeff

    My thoughts and prayers are with you Senator Kennedy. Todays historic proceedings have rightfully focused on the accomplishments of Dr. King and President Obama in the advancement of our great democracy, however, lest we forgot the great leadership your brother John also showed the world. For all I wish the best...we shall be one.

    January 20, 2009 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  2. Mary-Lee

    How sad. I suppose everyone knows that Senator Kennedy probably does not have that much time left, but at least I had hoped that he would be able to participate fully in the day's events. Best wishes, Senator, that you will feel better soon.

    January 20, 2009 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  3. southerncousin

    I won't make nasty tacky, hateful comments like the libs did on this page when word got out about Cheney hurting his back. Hope Teddy is okay.

    January 20, 2009 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  4. Naomi - Pa

    I am so saddened to hear of this happening..I wish Senator Kennedy all the best and may God Bless him and his family during this time..He's a fighter and i'm sure he'll fight through this too..

    January 20, 2009 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  5. G.R.I.T.S. - Girl Raised in the South

    I certainly hope this is only a minor problem and not a major illness. Sen. Kennedy has been through enough in his lifetime, more than most of us could handle. We'll be praying for the Senator.

    January 20, 2009 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  6. P. Y.

    What a sad thing to have happen on one of the best days of his life.
    Good luck Senator Kennedy. My wish is that you feel better soon and can enjoy the rest of the activities, if only via the TV or internet.

    January 20, 2009 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  7. OKIE

    He probably couldn't believe that it really happened!

    January 20, 2009 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  8. AnaB

    My thoughts are with you Senator Kennedy, and I wish you a speedy recovery!

    January 20, 2009 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  9. Steele Curtain


    Please watch over Ted like Ted watched over Mary Jo Kopechne.

    January 20, 2009 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  10. Josh

    First of all. I hope Ted Kennedy will make it through this without too many lingering effects. However.....this view might be a little unpopular but here we go:

    Had there been term limits on the amount a Senator can serve (or at the very least limiting consecutive terms) we wouldn't have a bunch of old men prone to health problems in Washington. Yeah, he's got 47 years of experience but does that really matter so much? I mean the times change but the political games never really do, after the first few years, a new senator would pretty much get the hang of it anyways.

    I believe that in order for the change to happen that this country needs we need to change the people running it. 12 years is more than enough for the Senators. Of course, that's only my opinion, I could be wrong

    January 20, 2009 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  11. Lauren

    If I am being honest, I think it is about time this man stepped down from his position. He needs to take care of what time he has left.

    January 20, 2009 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  12. Nee

    Mr. Kennedy, my prayers are with you.

    January 20, 2009 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |

    Cheney's pulled muscle was hardly life-threatening and he immediately took to a wheelchair. So, yes there were comments but more about his whining

    Not at all the same situation, as Kennedy has brain cancer...

    January 20, 2009 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  14. S Callahan

    Sen. Kennedy please know our prayers go out for you and Vicki. Get well soon.

    January 20, 2009 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  15. cnn moderator

    maybe caroline can take over...she has experience as a kennedy

    January 20, 2009 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  16. LF Oneto - VA

    Senator Kennedy, get well, the country needs your wisdom. Our prayers are with you and Vicky.

    January 20, 2009 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  17. Hevaen and hell

    Statistically, one out of one will die, the difference is heaven vs. hell.

    January 20, 2009 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  18. legal in nc

    Maybe if Kennedy wasn't so old he wouldn't be too fatigued to be out of bed more than 8 hours.

    Time for him and the rest of the old timers to get out!!!!

    Term Limits, politicians gift to the people!

    January 20, 2009 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  19. trish

    Isn't it time for him to leave the senate so he can go on with his life . We don't need someone in there that is that sick. God bless him.

    January 20, 2009 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  20. Sonny

    Southern Cousin- The thing is you saw all the nasty comments about Dick Cheney posted here, however you wont see ANY about this crook. CNN IS A JOKE

    January 20, 2009 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  21. susie

    Kennedy is to old and sick to stay as a Senator. We need new, younger blood to run this Country!

    January 20, 2009 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |