Joe Biden visits graves of first wife Neilia, daughter Naomi who died in car crash while picking Christmas tree
The president-elect was joined by his wife Dr Jill Biden, their daughter Ashley Biden and her husband Howard Krein on the duo's 48th death anniversary
President-elect Joe Biden made a visit to the graves of his first wife, Neilia, and their daughter Naomi, on the 48th anniversary of their deaths on December 18. The two were killed in a devastating car crash in 1972, and are buried at a cemetery outside St Joseph on the Brandywine Roman Catholic Church, in Wilmington, Delaware. The president-elect was joined by his wife Dr Jill Biden, their daughter Ashley Biden and her husband, Howard Krein. The family visited the graves after attending Mass at the Brandywine Roman Catholic Church, according to The Associated Press.
Neilia Biden and her 13-month-old daughter, Naomi, were killed in a car crash while going out to pick out Christmas trees. Accompanying them in the car were Joe Biden's sons, Hunter and Beau, who were 3 and 4 years old, respectively, at the time. The two sons survived the crash. The family's station wagon collided with a tractor-trailer in an intersection outside Wilmington. Biden himself had just won his first Senate campaign in Washington, DC, and was briefing his staff when he received the news.
Biden spoke about the moment to families of fallen US soldiers at an event in 2012. "By the tone of the phone call, you just knew. You just felt it in your bones: Something bad happened." He added, "I remember looking up and saying, ‘God,’ as if I was talking to God myself, ‘You can't be good, how can you be good?' For the first time in my life, I understood how someone could consciously decide to commit suicide. Not because they were deranged, not because they were nuts, because they had been to the top of the mountain, and they just knew in their heart they would never get there again."
Hunter received a fractured skull from the accident, while Beau broke a number of bones including his leg, which required him to go into a full-body cast. Joe Biden was sworn into the Senate in the hospital room while caring for his children. "I was supposed to be sworn in with everyone else that year in ’73, but I wouldn’t go down. So…the secretary of the Senate [came] to swear me in, in the hospital room with my children," Biden recounted, at a commencement speech at Yale University in 2012.
He later met his second wife — Jill Jacobs at the time — and married her in 1979, five years after the crash, and they had their daughter Ashley in 1981. Dr Jill Biden is now set to become the first lady when Biden is sworn into the office of the president, in January.
Biden lost his son Beau to a brain tumor in 2015, at the age of 46. Dr Jill Biden has talked about her husband's familiarity with tragedy, and spoke about it during the Democratic National Convention earlier in 2020, pointing out his compassion and understanding to those who have lost their loved ones during the Covid-19 pandemic. "How do you make a broken family whole?" she said. "The same way you make a nation whole. With love and understanding, and with small acts of compassion — with bravery, with unwavering faith."