Hunter was in the car when his mother, Neilia Hunter Biden, was killed at age 30 with her infant daughter, Naomi, 1. Neila was the first wife of former Vice President Joe Biden. Hunter, Beau and Naomi (called Amy) were her children with Joe Biden.
Joe Biden brought up his family tragedy in the first Democratic presidential debate of 2020 when he talked about the need for better healthcare. “I can’t imagine what it would have been like not to have adequate healthcare,” he said, referencing his first wife and daughter’s deaths and how his two sons were injured.
Here’s what you need to know:
Neilia Biden Was Driving to Get a Family Christmas Tree When the Fatal Accident Unfolded With Her Children in the Car
The year was 1972; Joe Biden was a new U.S. Senator in Delaware. It was supposed to be a typical and happy family outing; Neilia decided to take the couple’s three children, including Hunter, to buy a Christmas tree. By the end of the journey, only Hunter and Beau were still alive.
According to Politico, the Biden vehicle was struck by a truck carrying corncobs as they journeyed to pick out a Christmas tree.
Police determined that Neilia Biden “drove into the path of… (a) tractor-trailer, possibly because her head was turned and she didn’t see the oncoming truck,” according to Newark Post Online. By all accounts, the tractor-trailer driver did not cause the accident. Contrary to comments Joe Biden has made over the years, it appears to be a tragic accident not associated with alcohol use.
According to Politico, the driver of the truck, Curtis C. Dunn of Pennsylvania, was not accused of drunk driving or any wrongdoing in association with the crash.
“For whatever reason, Neilia Biden, who was holding the baby, ended up in the right of way of Dunn’s truck coming down a long hill,” Politico reported. A friend of Biden’s who looked into the accident at the time told Politico, “She had a stop sign. The truck driver did not.”
In 2008, the then-deceased Dunn’s daughter Pamela Hamill demanded an apology from Biden, according to Newark Post Online. Dunn died in 1999. She was upset that Biden had claimed that Dunn was drinking, when police did not find such.
“I just burst into tears,” Hamill said to Newark Post Online. “The story already is tragic enough, why did he have to sensationalize it by saying my father was drunk? My family is outraged.”
Hunter Biden Suffered a Head Injury in the Crash
A 1972 article in the Wilmington, Delaware News Journal reported that “Mrs. Biden was westbound on Valley Road. The car pulled away from a stop sign and was struck on the left side by the front right side of the truck.” Horribly, the story says that the station wagon carrying the Bidens “spun for about 150 feet, striking a row of evergreen trees and a highway sign and coming to rest against another tree.”
Crushed in the back of the car, says the article, “was a small Christmas tree.”
Another 1972 article in the same publication described Neilia Hunter Biden as “beauty-queen pretty, dean’s list bright, the active mother of three small children, and the wife of the man who, in little over two weeks, will become the country’s youngest senator.” They met on a Nassau beach during spring break from college in 1963, the article reported.
The Morning News, in Delaware, reported in 1972 that Beau was 4 and Hunter (called Robert) was 3 at the time of the crash.
A January 1973 article in the Times Herald reported that “three-year-old Robert Hunter Biden was released from the hospital earlier this week after being treated for a minor skull fracture.” Beau Biden was “still in traction with a broken leg.” The story reported that Joe Biden took the oath as a U.S. Senator with his “two young sons looking on” in a chapel at Delaware Division Wilmington Medical Center. Joe Biden vowed to give up the senator’s job in six months if it conflicted with fatherhood, saying, “You can always get another senator, but they can’t get another father.”
Joe Biden’s sister, Valerie, helped Joe Biden raise Beau and Hunter, then toddlers, after Neilia died. “They had lost their mom and their sister, so they cannot lose their father, and that’s what made him get out of bed in the morning,” she said, according to New Yorker. Biden commuted every day after his wife died so that he could be with his sons, according to History.com.
Joe Biden was able to find love again, to Jill Tracy Jacobs Biden, and she would become a mother figure to Hunter and Beau. Beau would later become attorney general of the state of Delaware, and tragically, he died of brain cancer, only age 46.
According to The New Yorker, Neilia was “the daughter of diner owners in upstate New York” when she met Joe Biden in 1966. He was in law school when they married.
Joe Biden was raised in Pennsylvania and Delaware; his father was a car salesman.
When Neilia’s mother asked Joe Biden was he intended to do for a career, he told her, “President of the United States,” the New Yorker reported.
In a 2012 talk, Joe Biden said, according to ABC News: “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’d been to the top of the mountain and they just knew in their heart they’d never get there again, that it was … never going to be that way ever again.”