In the hours after his car plunged off the bridge at Chappaquiddick, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy wanted to tell police that Mary Jo Kopechne was alone in the car, according to a new book about the accident.

In an account attributed to Kennedy cousin Joseph Gargan, Kennedy told Gargan and a friend, Paul Markham, the morning after the accident that "I'm going to say that Mary Jo was driving." Kopechne drowned in the accident, which has shadowed Kennedy's political career for 19 years.The book, by Leo Damore, is "Senatorial Privilege: The Chappaquiddick Coverup," and is purportedly based, in part, on the first extensive interviews Gargan has ever given for publication. Gargan and Markham went with Kennedy to the bridge shortly after the accident to try to rescue Kopechne from the submerged car.

A statement issued by Kennedy spokesman Jeff Smith said: "As the record shows, no reputable publisher would touch this book. The charges about Senator Kennedy are false. The book is an irresponsible rehash of all the old rumor and innuendo, and we have no intention of making any further comment."