July 18

Mary Jo Kopechne died in an automobile accident in 1969. She was a passenger in the car driven by Senator Ted Kennedy after attending a party on Chappaquiddick Island off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard. Kennedy drove the car off a narrow unlit bridge and it overturned in a pond. Kennedy managed to escape, but Kopechne did not. Kennedy failed to report the incident until the next morning. Kennedy pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident and received a two-month suspended sentence. He claimed that he had not been under the influence of alcohol and did not have a private relationship with Kopechne. The incident may have hurt his chances of becoming president later in his career.

In 1976, Nadia Comaneci became the first gymnast to score a perfect 10 in an Olympic gymnastic event. The Romanian gymnast scored 10 on the uneven parallel bars during the team portion of the competition. Because the scoreboard could not post a score of 10, it showed 1.0 instead. She would earn six additional score of ten during the rest of the competition in Montreal. At the age of 14, Comaneci was the youngest all-around Olympic champion in history. She was named as the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year and the Associated Press’s 1976 Female Athlete of the Year. Comaneci defected in 1989 and settled in Montreal. In 1996, she married gymnast Bart Conner and in 2001, she became a citizen of the United States.

Twenty-one people were killed, including five children, and 19 more were injured at the San Ysidro, California McDonald’s restaurant in 1984. A SWAT team killed the killer, 41-year old James Huberty. Three days before the massacre, Huberty suspected that he might have a mental problem. The incident lasted for 78 minutes, during which Huberty fired 257 rounds of ammunition using a shotgun, a semi-automatic pistol, and an Uzi. The restaurant was renovated and then razed and McDonald’s built another restaurant nearby. The corporation donated the land to the city with the stipulation that no restaurant be constructed on the site. McDonald’s donated a million dollars to the survivors’ fund.

Birthdays Today

1913Red Skelton, American actor and singer (d. 1997)
1918Nelson Mandela, South African lawyer and politician, 1st President of South Africa, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 2013)
1921John Glenn, American colonel, astronaut, and politician
1929Dick Button, American figure skater
1940Joe Torre, American baseball player and manager

Larry Moskal began his career as a Social Studies teacher in 1971. He graduated from the University of Buffalo with degrees in history and education. Larry taught Social Studies for the Ken-Ton School system, a suburban school system north of Buffalo, New York until 2005, and then taught and was the Dean of Students at San Miguel High School in Tucson. At Ken-Ton, he pioneered several online courses for high school students. In the 1980s, he spent three years teaching in Colombia, South America and spent four years at Lewiston-Porter High School. He currently is the PowerSchool Administrator for San Miguel accomplishing his work over the Internet.