The President-elect lost his first wife Neilia and their baby daughter Naomi to the car crash while his two sons were injured.
President-elect Joe Biden visited the gravesites of his first wife, Neilia, and his daughter Naomi on the 48th anniversary of the horrific crash that killed them. Joe Biden was accompanied by his wife Dr. Jill Biden, their daughter, Ashley Biden, 39, and her husband, oncologist Howard Krein, as he visited the graves at a cemetery outside of St. Joseph on the Brandywine Roman Catholic Church, in Wilmington, Delaware, reported PEOPLE. The President-elect lost his wife and daughter on December 18, 1972, just weeks after being elected to the Senate. Joe Biden attended the morning mass along with his family before visiting the gravesites to pay his respects.
Joe and Jill Biden arrive at church on the 48th anniversary of the accident that killed Neilia and Naomi Biden, the president-elect’s first wife and daughter. pic.twitter.com/asiiCmr58r— Jennifer Epstein (@jeneps) December 18, 2020
Biden's college sweetheart and first wife Neilia was driving her three young kids after holiday shopping when the accident happened. The family's station wagon collided with a tractor-trailer in an intersection outside Wilmington and "was demolished." Neilia and their 13-month-old daughter Naomi died in the crash while their two sons Beau, 4, and Hunter, 3, were injured. Joe Biden was Senator-elect at the time. "A Christmas tree, briefcase, telephone index cards, and literature from Biden's Senate campaign were thrown from the car," read a local news report at the time.
Biden was in Washington D.C. after winning the Senate race when he was informed of the accident. “By the tone of the phone call, you just knew,” he recalled when he met a group of families of fallen U.S. soldiers in 2012. “You just felt it in your bones: Something bad happened.” Biden rushed back to the hospital where his two sons' were admitted. “I remember looking up and saying, ‘God,’ as if I was talking to God myself, ‘You can’t be good, how can you be good?’ ” he recalled in 2012. “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 had been to the top of the mountain, and they just knew in their heart they would never get there again.”
Joe Biden would go on to meet Jill Jacobs, a teacher and they would marry five years later. The couple had a daughter, Ashley, in 1981. Joe Biden has always credited his wife for guiding him through a dark time in his life. “There are times when I couldn’t imagine how he did it — how he put one foot in front of the other and kept going," said Dr. Biden earlier this year. She addressed the pandemic and cited Biden navigating his personal trauma and loss, as a beacon of hope for families affected by the virus. “How do you make a broken family whole?" she said then. "The same way you make a nation whole. With love and understanding, and with small acts of compassion — with bravery, with unwavering faith.”
Singer Cher recalled a time Biden spoke to her about his family and his losses. “I saw the pictures in his office and I said, ‘Oh my God, such beautiful children and your wife is so pretty’ — and it was his wife and daughter who had died. I was like, ‘OK, Cher. Insert foot in mouth’" said Cher. "But he was just so great about it. You know, everybody’s got faults, but at least he has a soul and he understands pain," said the singer. She had pledged to cast her vote for Biden in the 2020 Presidential election. “I like Joe. I’ve known Joe for a long, long, long time. I had a meeting once with him and I thought, ‘You know what? This is an honest man.’ It was way before he was with Barack Obama," said Cher, in an interview with Billboard. "We had a conversation and he was so painfully honest. At the end of it, I said, ‘You know, Joe? You can trust me, I’m taking things to my grave, but if I ask you a question and you answer it so honestly, you’re safe with me,’” she told him at the end of the conversation.