Search for Robert F. Kennedy’s Granddaughter and Great-Grandson Suspended After Disappearing in a Canoe While Retrieving a Kickball

On April 2, Robert F. Kennedy‘s granddaughter, Maeve Kennedy Townsend McKean, and his 8-year-old great-grandson, Gideon, went missing after the mother-and-son pair hopped into a canoe and never returned.

According to Maeve’s husband, David McKean, Maeve and Gideon had got into the canoe in order to get a ball that had fallen into the Chesapeake Bay on April 2. In his interview with the Washington Post, David said he and his family were spending some time outside while visiting Maeve’s mother’s waterfront property in Shady Side, Maryland.

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As the Post reports, it was just after 4:00 p.m. when the ball the Maeve and Gideon were kicking around was accidentally kicked into the water. “They just got farther out than they could handle and couldn’t get back in,” David said.

RFK’s Granddaughter and Great-Grandson Missing After Getting Into a Canoe to Retrieve a Ball

David also took to Facebook the night after his wife and son had disappeared to share photos of them with the public. David called his wife “his everything,” adding that they had decided to retreat to Maeve’s mother’s Shady Side property while quarantining, “hoping to give our kids more space than we have at home in DC to run around.”

Soon after help was called, it was reported that “the rescue mission” had turned into a “recovery mission.” At the time Maeve, a mother of three, and Gideon got into the canoe, a spokesman for the U.S. Coast Guard revealed in a statement that the wind was blowing at about 30 miles-per-hour and the waves were about two to three feet high. Gideon was the couple’s oldest child, according to People.

The spokesman for the Anne Arundel County Fire Department, Captain Erik Kornmeyer said the only initial sighting of Maeve and Gideon occurred around 4:30 p.m. when someone called to say he saw the canoe from the Columbia Beach pier. “After that last sighting, they were not seen again,” David wrote on Facebook.

It was the following day, Friday, April 3, that an overturned canoe matching the description of the one Maeve and Gideon were in was discovered without the mother-and-son pair inside of it. At the time the canoe was found, the U.S. Coast Guard had searched 2,275 square miles. Sadly, on April 4, the search for Maeve and Gideon was suspended.

“My heart is crushed,” Maeve’s mother, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, said in her own statement. “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.”

Kathleen continued, “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.” At the time of their disappearance, Maeve was the executive director of the Georgetown University Global Health Initiative.

Having dedicated her professional life to public service, Kathleen said her daughter “devoted her life to helping society’s most vulnerable. She did everything with her full self and her whole heart.”

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Additionally, David also mentioned how their two youngest children were dealing with the sudden and unexpected loss of their mother and brother. “At seven, Gabriella is heartbroken, but she amazes me with her maturity and grace. Toby is two-and-a-half, so he’s still his usual magical and goofy self. I know soon he will start to ask for Maeve and Gideon. It breaks my heart that he will not get to have them as a mother and brother.”

Our thoughts and prayers are with the Kennedy and McKean families during this very difficult time.

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