Courtesy Karen Kelley Pamela Kelley Burkley circa 1975
It was the summer of 1973 and Pam Kelley was a free-spirited 18-year-old living in Massachusetts who loved animals (especially stray cats) and swimming and her boyfriend, David Kennedy, the fourth of Robert and Ethel’s 11 children.
On Aug. 13, the young couple went on a beach trip near Nantucket accompanied by Kim Kelley, Pam’s sister, as well as three friends and David’s older brother Joseph Kennedy II. On the way home their jeep, driven by 20-year-old Joe, swerved at an intersection and flipped over, throwing out all of the passengers — and shattering Pam’s life.
In the hospital, she learned she was paralyzed from the chest down and would not walk again. “I’ll never forget our mother telling her,” sister Karen Kelley remembers. “My father couldn’t do it. We all cried. The room was so quiet. She wasn’t sobbing, but there were…