EXCLUSIVE: A romance marked by shared grief: How fiancé of Hunter Biden’s daughter Naomi lost his 19-year-old brother in fatal car accident that mirrors crash that killed his soon-to-be grandfather-in-law President Joe Biden’s first wife and daughter
- Peter Neal, 25, lost his oldest brother Willie Neal in a fatal car crash that echoes the one that killed President Joe Biden’s first wife and his baby daughter
- The Penn Law School graduate, who grew up in a small town outside of Jackson, Wyoming, is set to tie the knot with Hunter Biden’s daughter Naomi this weekend
- Willie Neal, 19, a talented skier and a delegate at the 2008 DNC, was training to compete in the biathlon in the Winter Olympics before his death in June 2009
- He was fatally struck by a distracted driver, Erik Lundquist, then, who admitted he was looking down to retrieve his phone when he struck Willie
- But prosecutors refused to bring charges – a decision that left Neal’s mother, Dr. Mary Neal, 64, ‘further disappointed and disillusioned by the legal system’
- Similarly Joe Biden’s first wife, Neilia Biden, and his one-year-old daughter, Naomi, were tragically killed when their car was struck by a tractor trailer in 1972
- The driver of the tractor trailer, Curtis Dunn, was also not charged
Just like his soon-to-be grandfather-in-law President Joe Biden, the man poised to marry Naomi Biden at the White House this weekend, is no stranger to grief.
One of four children, Peter Neal, 25, experienced the sudden loss of his oldest brother in a fatal car crash that echoes the one that took the president’s first wife and his one-year-old daughter, Naomi, the namesake of the bride-to-be.
Neal’s mother claims that she foresaw the death of her son during her own near-death experience.
Neal, a University of Pennsylvania Law School grad, grew up in a tiny town on the outskirts of Jackson, Wyoming.
Peter Neal, 25, a University of Pennsylvania Law School grad, is set to tie the knot with Hunter Biden’s daughter Naomi Biden at the White House South Lawn this weekend
Peter’s oldest brother Willie Neal (pictured with his parents) died in a 2009 car accident that seems to echo the crash that killed Joe Biden’s first wife and his one-year-old daughter
The Neal family’s tragic loss resembles mirrors that of the Bidens, pictured above months before the car crash that killed his wife Neilia and their one-year-old daughter Naomi
Neal, the son of two doctors, grew up in a small town outside Jackson, Wyoming
The son of two doctors, his family embraced outdoor life in the West.
His brother Willie, who was a delegate at the 2008 Democratic National Convention, won eight state Nordic ski titles in high school.
He interned for Massachusetts Senator John Kerry and planned to attend Middlebury College in the fall of 2009.
In June of that year, 19-year-old Willie was training in Maine for the chance to compete in the biathlon in the Winter Olympics when he was fatally struck by a distracted driver.
The young man behind the wheel, Erik Lundquist, who was 18 at the time, admitted that he had looked down to retrieve his phone when he smashed into Willie Neal, but prosecutors refused to bring charges.
The decision that left Peter Neal’s mother, Dr. Mary Neal, 64, ‘further disappointed and disillusioned by the legal system.’
Similarly, Biden’s first wife, Neilia Biden, and his one-year-old daughter, Naomi, were tragically killed when their car was struck by a tractor trailer in 1972, two weeks before he was sworn in as the 29-year-old newly elected junior senator for Delaware.
Willie Neal, a talented skier and who once interned for Senator John Kerry, was training in Maine to compete in the biathlon in the Winter Olympics before his death on June 21, 2009
Willie was a delegate at the 2008 Democratic National Convention and won eight state Nordic ski titles in high school
The Willie Neal Environmental Awareness Fund was established in his honor as he was known for his passion for ‘family, life, skiing, politics, and the planet’
The president’s two sons Beau and Hunter survived the accident with serious injuries.
The driver of the tractor trailer, Curtis Dunn, was also not charged.
Though the president has often said that the driver was drunk, police found no indication that either driver had been drinking, according to the Newark Post.
‘A tractor-trailer, a guy who allegedly — and I never pursued it — drank his lunch instead of eating his lunch, broadsided my family and killed my wife instantly and killed my daughter instantly and hospitalized my two sons,’ Biden said back in 2008.
At the time Dunn’s daughter, incensed by the unfounded accusation, later demanded an apology from the president.
‘The story already is tragic enough, why did he have to sensationalize it by saying my father was drunk? My family is outraged,’ Dunn’s daughter Pamela Hamill told the Newark, Delaware paper.
Neal’s family also harbors bitterness over the injustice of the crash that took Willie Neal.
‘It was clear that small-town politics significantly influenced the process, or lack thereof, so we were further disappointed and disillusioned by the legal system when [the prosecutor] chose not to file criminal charges against Erik Lundquist,’ Mary Neal told the Jackson Hole News & Guide.
Nine years after the tragedy, mother Mary Neal spoke of her experience with death and grief in a 2018 TEDx talk in Jackson titled ‘Death Brings Context to Life’
Naomi is a lawyer based in Washington D.C., while Peter graduated from the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School earlier this year
Peter proposed to Naomi in his hometown last September with a ring that includes the band of his grandmother’s engagement ring
‘Being involved in the legal aspect of this tragedy required repeated review and discussion of the details of Willie’s senseless death, which only intensified our crushing and unremitting sense of loss,’ she told the paper.
‘We have now done what was needed for Willie and we have tried to help Erik Lundquist, so, for us, closing this chapter in the tragedy will represent a mark in time that we can use as a starting point for the next chapter.’
The family declined to bring a civil suit against Lundquist.
Nearly 10 years later, Mary Neal told a crowd at a TEDx talk in Jackson that she had foreseen the death of her son when she herself had died during a river trip in South America and had miraculously come back to life.
‘How you understand death directly determines how you experience life,’ she said during a 2018 TEDx Talk in her hometown.
‘My own understanding of death changed in 1999 when I died while kayaking in South America.’
Neal goes on to explain that she was pinned under 8 to 10 feet of pounding white water at the base of a waterfall.
She was stuck in the undercurrent for a half an hour without oxygen, she told the crowd, before being rescued.
Naomi and Peter at the White House on inauguration night in January 2021, with the South Lawn visible behind them
In July this year, Naomi Biden announced her wedding will take place on the South Lawn of the White House on November 19
The 30-minute experience underwater became the subject of two books by Mary Neal, ‘7 Lessons From Heaven’ and ‘To Heaven and Back.’
‘When I regained consciousness, I was in a state of shock – not because I had just drowned, not because of my multiple broken legs and not because I was on the side of a remote river with no access to medical care.
‘No, I was in a state of shock because I could not believe that I was sent back to my body from a place that I will call Heaven.’
She said that it was peaceful under the water and she felt embraced by Jesus Christ.
Her life flashed in front of her and she said that instead of judgment, she was shown the beauty in her past challenges and mistakes.
She said that she was at peace as she looked down on her own body by the side of the river and looked forward to being welcomed in heaven when she was told that she would have to return to the world of the living.
‘I was told that it wasn’t my time, that I had more work to do on Earth and that I’d have to go back to my body’ she said.
President Joe Biden and fist lady Jill Biden, left, walk with their granddaughter Naomi Biden, second from right, and her fiancé Peter Neal, right, and Neal’s dog Charlie, across the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, June 20, 2022, as they return from a weekend at the Biden’s beach home in Delaware
‘And when I objected, I was given a laundry list of work yet to be done, none of which was desirable and all of which would challenge me in one way or another.’
The biggest burden that she would carry back with her was the pending death of her son.
‘Especially challenging was news of the coming and unexpected death of my oldest son,’ she said.
When reached on his cell phone Thursday morning, Peter Neal declined to comment on the parallels between his brother’s death and the crash that took the president’s first wife and baby daughter.
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