Angela Chao: Mitch McConnell's Billionaire Sister-In-Law Was Three Times Over Legal Drinking Limit When She Backed Her Tesla into Pond and Died

Chao, the former CEO of dry bulk shipping giant Foremost Group, had planned to celebrate the weekend with her girlfriends but the night ended in tragedy.

  • Updated

Angela Chao, the billionaire sister-in-law of Senator Mitch McConnell, was reportedly drunk when she unintentionally backed her Tesla into a pond on a Texas ranch and died last month, according to police. The investigation conducted by the sheriff's office determined that Chao's death on February 10 was deemed "an unfortunate accident."

The Blanco County Sheriff's Office released a report on Wednesday revealing that Chao's blood alcohol level was nearly three times the state's legal limit when she backed her car into the pond while attempting a three-point turn. The incident took place while Chao was with seven of her girlfriends at a sprawling 4,500-acre private property in Texas' Hill Country.

Unfortunate Death While Being Drunk

Angela Chao
Angela Chao X

Chao, the former CEO of dry bulk shipping giant Foremost Group, had planned to celebrate the weekend with her girlfriends but the night ended in tragedy. The sister-in-law of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was pronounced dead at the scene after her Tesla SUV was retrieved from the water on her 900-acre ranch in Texas on February 11.

After having dinner at the property's guest house, the 50-year-old decided to make the short drive to her lodgings on the property in her Tesla Model X SUV at around 11:37 p.m.

Angela Chao
Angela Chao X

According to the report, video footage showed her "walking unsteadily to her vehicle."

Shortly afterward, she frantically called her friends in a state of panic after inadvertently backing over an embankment and sinking her vehicle into a pond located just yards away from the guest house.

The report from the Blanco County Sheriff's Office details their frantic efforts to rescue her as she spoke to one of her friends, Amber Keinan, over the phone from her slowly sinking vehicle.

"Chao told Keinan the water was rising and she was going to die and said "I love you" to Keinan prior to the vehicle going under water," police said in the report.

Police said that other friends made desperate attempts to swim to the car to offer assistance, while Keinan paddled out in a kayak to aid in the rescue efforts.

Angela Chao
Angela Chao with her husband Jim Breyer X

Around 11:55 p.m., someone placed a call to 911 and remained on the line with police for roughly 11 minutes, as detailed in the report.

Police arrived at the scene and tried to free Chao from the vehicle, which was roughly 25 yards away from the shoreline, amid the screams of Chao's friends, according to police accounts.

They managed to break open the driver's side window, and a deputy reached out and grabbed Chao's hand.

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

Heavily Drunk

At the time of her death, Chao had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.233 grams per 100 milliliters, nearly three times Texas' legal limit of .08, according to the police report.

Angela Chao
Angela Chao X

The ranch where Chao died is owned by a corporation linked to her husband, Jim Breyer, a venture capitalist and part-owner of the Boston Celtics with an estimated net worth of $2.9 billion, as reported by The Wall Street Journal.

Chao's sister, Elaine Chao, is married to McConnell and has served as Secretary of Labor under President George W. Bush and Secretary of Transportation in President Donald Trump's administration.

The Chao family holds a unique distinction as the only family in the school's history to have four daughters attend Harvard Business School.

Chao completed her bachelor's degree in economics with summa cum laude honors in just three years.

Following this, she pursued further education at Harvard Business School and later joined her father's company, The Foremost Group, in 1996. Chao was known for her "pioneering leadership" and noted as a "formidable executive" in the shipping industry.

In 2018, she assumed the role of Chief Executive Officer of the company. Additionally, Chao was appointed as an independent director on the board of the Bank of China in June 2016.

In a family statement shortly after her death, Chao's father, James S.C. Chao, said, "Angela's name in Chinese sounds like the characters for peace and prosperity."

He added, "Her absence leaves a void not only in our hearts, but in the Asian-American community," as reported by the Associated Press.

Top of Form

Chao served as a founding advisory council co-chair of The Asian American Foundation. The organization issued a statement expressing grief over the news of her tragic death.

Angela Chao
Angela Chao X

The nonprofit said, "The Asian American Foundation is heartbroken to learn of the devastating death of Angela Chao, a beloved businesswoman, philanthropist and respected leader.

"Angela has left an indelible mark on The Asian American Foundation and the AAPI community.

"A brilliant and committed leader, Angela's warmth, kindness, and infectious energy will live on in our work for decades to come."