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Angela Chao died after her Tesla backed into a pond, reports say

Until now, few details have been released about the death of the shipping industry CEO and sister-in-law of Mitch McConnell.
Angela Chao
Posted at 5:51 PM, Mar 11, 2024

Angela Chao, a shipping industry CEO and sister of former U.S. cabinet secretary Elaine Chao who is married to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, died after her car went over an embankment and into a pond on a private property in Central Texas last month, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The family of the 50-year-old announced her tragic death in a statement back in February but did not provide any details about what happened. 

The Wall Street Journal reported Chao’s Tesla Model X SUV became submerged in the pond on the property in Blanco County after she put the car in reverse instead of drive during a three-point turn. Attempts to rescue Chao in the submerged vehicle were unsuccessful due to the terrain and other factors, the Wall Street Journal said. 

Newspaper Austin American-Statesman received a three-page report from Blanco County Emergency Services describing the incident after it submitted a Texas Public Information Act request since the sheriff’s office would only release limited details on the incident. 

The report said first responders tried to rescue Chao from the submerged car for over an hour. A tow truck called to the scene had difficulty pulling the vehicle out of the water because its chains were not long enough to reach it, the Austin American-Statesman said, based on the report. 

Deputies stood on the submerged vehicle and used tools to break the vehicle's windows, the report said. 

After Chao was pulled from the vehicle, EMS attempted "advanced life support" for 43 minutes to try to resuscitate her, but she was ultimately pronounced dead at the scene, the report said. 

Death of Mitch McConnell's sister-in-law being investigated
Sen. Mitch McConnell and his wife Elaine Chao.

Death of Mitch McConnell's sister-in-law being investigated

Angela Chao, a shipping CEO, died after the vehicle she was in crashed on private property in Texas.


Last week, the Blanco County Sheriff's Office wrote a letter to the Texas attorney general stating, "This incident was not a typical accident” and “Although the preliminary investigation indicated this was an unfortunate accident, the Sheriff’s Office is still investigating this accident as a criminal matter until they have sufficient evidence to rule out criminal activity,” according to CNBC. 

Austin American-Statesman reported the private property where Chao died is owned by a trust that shares the same Chicago address as an investment and public equity firm owned by her husband, Jim Breyer, based on public records. 

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 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, 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 the family statement. "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, was named president.