2 Members of Kennedy Family Presumed Dead After Canoeing Off Chesapeake Bay

The search for two members of the Kennedy family who went missing on Thursday while canoeing in the Chesapeake Bay has gone from “rescue to recovery.”

The Coast Guard has been searching for the pair for more than 24 hours since being seen 10 miles south of Annapolis.

The missing canoers have been identified as Robert F. Kennedy’s granddaughter, Maeve Kennedy Townsend McKean, and her 8-year-old son, Gideon McKean.


Kathleen Kennedy Townsend provided this statement:

“With profound sadness, I share the news that the search for my beloved daughter Maeve and grandson Gideon has turned from rescue to recovery. Our Maeve devoted her life to helping society’s most vulnerable. She was a Peace Corps Volunteer who pursued a career in law to give voice to the voiceless. She was Executive Director of the Georgetown University Global Health Initiative and taught bioethics and human rights as an adjunct professor, where she gave hope to those who need it most. Maeve served on the board of the Brady Campaign and Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, where she honored the standard that we are all defined by the plight of those society leaves behind. She was a PTA president, a soccer star, and a marathon runner.

Maeve was vivid. You always knew when she was in a room. Her laughter was loud, unabashed, and infectious. She did everything with her full self and her whole heart. She gave the best hugs, sang loudly and out of tune, danced, wrestled, argued, forgave. Maeve shone. The fire emanating from her soul warmed us all. Her husband, David, and their children, Gideon, Gabriella, and Toby, were the great joys of her life. The role she treasured most was mom. 

Gideon, like his mom, was a star athlete who loved soccer, golf, and running. He took after his parents in the most extraordinary ways. He loved riddles, math, chess, and adventures. He loved to invent new games with his mom and share them with us all. Gideon was a loving and protective big brother to Gabriella and Toby. And she was the most wonderful sister to Meaghan, Kat, and Kerry.

When my uncle Ted eulogized my father, he offered a prayer that what daddy was to his family, and what he wished for others, would someday come to pass for all the world. This is our prayer for Maeve and Gideon. 

Our hearts are crushed, yet we shall try to summon the grace of God and what strength we have to honor the hope, energy and passion that Maeve and Gideon set forth into the world. My family thanks all for the outpouring of love and prayers as we grieve and try to bear this devastating loss.”


During the major search by the U.S. Coastal Guard and multiple police and fire departments, they found an overturned canoe.


I am writing here to address the countless people who have loved my wife Maeve and my son Gideon. As many of you have…

Posted by David McKean on Friday, April 3, 2020


Maeve and Gideon McKean were playing kickball near a shallow cove behind the house when the ball went in the water, according to David McKean. The got into the canoe to retrieve it from the cove but got pushed into the bay.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, someone spotted them struggling to get back to shore about 30 minutes later and called authorities.

Around 6:30 p.m., Thursday, the Coastal Guard recovered an overturned canoe “matching the approximate description” of the missing canoe.

Natural Resources Police, Maryland State Police, the U.S. Coast Guard, and local police and fire departments searched for the McKean’s for the rest of the day and into the night and throughout the day on Friday.


“This was a difficult case, and even more difficult to make the decision to suspend the search,” Coast Guard Cmdr. Matthew Fine said in a release. “Our crews and partners did everything they could to find them. We’ve kept the family informed at every step during the search, and our thoughts are with them tonight.”


McKean was the granddaughter of Robert F. Kennedy and grandniece of former president John F. Kennedy. Her mother ran for governor in 2002. McKean was the executive director ‘s Global Health Initiative.


“Gideon, like his mom, was a star athlete who loved soccer, golf, and running,” Townsend said. “He took after his parents in the most extraordinary ways. He loved riddles, math, chess, and adventures. He loved to invent new games with his mom and share them with us all. Gideon was a loving and protective big brother to Gabriella and Toby.”



Anyone with additional information about this case should contact the Sector Maryland command center at 410-576-2525.



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