Angela Chao, Mitch McConnell’s sister-in-law, was drunk when she drove into pond, police say

Angela Chao, a shipping industry CEO and sister-in-law to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, was intoxicated when she drove into a pond and died last month in Texas, according to a law enforcement report released Wednesday.

The investigation by the Blanco County Sheriff’s Office concluded that Chao’s death was an “unfortunate accident” and her blood alcohol level was nearly three times the state’s legal limit.

Chao, 50, died the night of Feb. 10 after having dinner with a large group at a ranch near Johnson City, west of Austin. The report describes a frantic scene as friends and deputies tried to pull Chao from her Tesla after she backed it into the pond near a guest lodge on the property.

A friend, Amber Keinan, told detectives that Chao called her at 11:42 p.m. and said the car was in the water and she was trapped inside. The conversation lasted 8 minutes as the car slowly sank.

“Chao told Keinan the water was rising and she was going to die and said ‘I love you,’” the report says. “Chao then said her good byes to Keinan.”

Friends swam to the car while another paddled out with a kayak, according to the report. Someone else called 911 at 11:55 p.m. and remained on the phone for 11 minutes.

When law enforcement officials and firefighters arrived, they went into the water and attempted to enter the Tesla, the report said. They broke the window on the driver’s side, and a deputy felt around until he located Chao’s hand.

Emergency crews pulled her out of the car and brought her to shore, where she was pronounced dead at 1:40 a.m. Feb. 11.

A toxicology test determined that Chao had a blood alcohol concentration level of 0.233 grams per 100 milliliters, above the legal limit in Texas of .08, the report says.

Chao was the chair and CEO of her family’s shipping business, the Foremost Group, and the president of her father’s philanthropic organization, the Foremost Foundation. She lived in Austin, which is about 50 miles (80 kilometers) east of Blanco County.

Chao was the youngest of six sisters to immigrant parents who moved to the U.S. from China in the late 1950s. Her eldest sibling, Elaine Chao, is married to McConnell and served as transportation secretary under President Donald Trump and labor secretary under President George W. Bush.

“Angela’s name in Chinese sounds like the characters for peace and prosperity,” her father, James S.C. Chao, said in a family statement shortly after her death. “Her absence leaves a void not only in our hearts, but in the Asian-American community.”

Her father was named chairman of Foremost Group following her death. Michael Lee, a former president, became president.

Chao is survived by her husband, father and four sisters.


Republished with permission from The Associated Press.

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