One of Robert F. Kennedy's granddaughters has died, family says

'Our hearts are shattered,' statement says

By Carolyn Sung, Nicole Chavez and Kevin Liptak, CNN
Benny Snyder/AP/File via CNN

The Kennedy compound in Hyannis is seen from Lewis Bay in 2009.

(CNN) - A granddaughter of Robert F. Kennedy died after being found unresponsive Thursday at the Kennedy compound on Massachusetts' Cape Cod, officials say.

Saoirse Kennedy Hill, 22, was the daughter of Courtney Kennedy Hill, one of the 11 children of the late presidential candidate and the environmental and human rights activist Ethel Kennedy.

The cause of death wasn't immediately released. But an autopsy Friday revealed no trauma except that consistent with lifesaving measures, said the area's district attorney, Michael O'Keefe.

"Our hearts are shattered by the loss of our beloved Saoirse," the Kennedy family said in a statement released Thursday evening. "Her life was filled with hope, promise and love."

Her grandmother, Ethel Kennedy, said in the statement, "The world is a little less beautiful today."

First responders were called to a medical emergency at the Kennedy compound in Hyannis Port around 2:30 p.m. Thursday, Hyannis Fire Lt. David Webb said.

The Boston College communications student was taken to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead, O'Keefe said.

Authorities are awaiting results of a toxicology report, O'Keefe said. Police in Barnstable, the town that includes the Hyannis Port village, are investigating the death with state police detectives, he said.

She was due to graduate next year, Boston College said.

She had volunteered in Mexico to build schools in indigenous communities and was "moved by the causes of human rights and women's empowerment," her family said.

"She lit up our lives with her love, her peals of laughter and her generous spirit," the family's statement reads.

The Kennedy compound, a six-acre waterfront property in Hyannis Port, is home to several members of the Kennedy family.

The property captured the nation's attention during the presidency of John F. Kennedy in the 1960s. The presidential helicopter, Marine One, landed there countless times and several high-profile politicians visited it.

She had written about battling depression

Kennedy Hill attended a private high school in western Massachusetts. She wrote an opinion piece for the student newspaper about her struggles with depression.

"My depression took root in the beginning of my middle school years and will be with me for the rest of my life," she wrote in a column in the Deerfield Academy's student publication in February 2016. "Although I was mostly a happy child, I suffered bouts of deep sadness that felt like a heavy boulder on my chest."

The column focused on her return to school for her senior year after she took medical leave for treatment. She lamented, in part, that federal privacy law seemed to prevent her teachers and advisers from knowing what she was going through, and asserted that the school could be better prepared to talk about mental illness.

CNN's Jason Hanna, Rebekah Riess, Amanda Watts and Evan Simko-Bednarski contributed to this report.

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