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UPDATED: Senator Kennedy takes ill at Inaugural luncheon

The news outlets are reporting that Senator Ted Kennedy was taken out of the Inaugural luncheon on a stretcher, while WV Senator Robert Byrd had trouble with eating and was given medical attention and left via his wheelchair. (UPDATE: the latter turned out not to be the case, see below).

At this time it is being reported on MSNBC that Kennedy, who was in a wheelchair at the luncheon, suffered a seizure some time after Byrd, going into convulsions and he was removed and placed on a gurney and wheeled out. Senators Hatch and Kerry accompanied Kennedy and the aides who took him to the ambulance.

* AP story is here.

* CNN‘s report

* The WaPo was liveblogging and reported on this, with Sen. Byrd upset at Kennedy’s condition rather than taking ill.

Lawmakers at the lunch said the apparent seizure lasted five to 10 minutes. Sen. Kerry said Kennedy was conscious after leaving the room, before being taken by ambulance to an unnamed hospital.

Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.) described hearing a cough when the Kennedy episode began, followed by a “cough, a silence throughout the room.” Rockefeller said Obama “went over immediately to be helpful.” He said the lights in the room were dimmed, as a large crowd gathered around Kennedy.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said he saw Kennedy as the Massachusetts Democrat was wheeled out to an ambulance, and said the senator flashed him “an Irish smile.” Hatch told reporters, “I think he’s going to be okay, but it’s a tough thing.”

Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.), who was sitting at the same table with Kennedy, was taken from the room by staff moments before medical personnel arrived to assist Kennedy. Kerry added that Byrd’s exit from the room was related to Kennedy’s condition and not any medical problems of his own. “He was concerned about what was happening with Senator Kennedy,” Kerry told reporters.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding