Authorities found the body of Maeve Kennedy Townsend McKean on Monday after a five-day search for her and her 8-year-old son, Gideon, in the Chesapeake Bay. According to her husband, David McKean, she and their son canoed out into the Bay to retrieve a ball they were kicking around in the yard around 4 p.m. on Thursday evening. “They just got farther out than they could handle and couldn’t get back in,” David said in a brief interview with The Washington Post on April 3. Police later reported that the canoe “appeared to be overtaken by the strong winds,” and later capsized. Gideon has not yet been found but is also presumed dead, according to police.
In a statement provided to Refinery29 by the Maryland Natural Resources Police, a spokesperson confirmed that the search for Gideon resumed at daylight on Tuesday morning. Police also confirmed details of Maeve's disappearance and how they eventually found her. The 41-year-old's body was found in 25 feet of water about 2.5 miles south of where she and Gideon launched the canoe. Rescuers searched more than 3,600 square miles over air, sea, and land before they were able to find her. The Maryland Natural Resources Police used aviation and underwater imaging sonar technology to find her body.
Authorities were originally alerted about 30 minutes after the two set out in the canoe. “They were spotted by an onlooker from land, who saw them far out from shore, and called the police,” David wrote in a lengthy post on Facebook on Friday. “After that last sighting, they were not seen again.” Officials confirmed that an overturned boat matching the canoe’s description had been found hours after they went missing.
The family had been staying at a house owned by Maeve’s mother in Shady Side, MD to self-quarantine away from their Washington D.C. residence. In D.C., Maeve worked as a public health and human rights lawyer as well as executive director of Georgetown University’s Global Health Initiative. Now, her family mourns her sudden loss amid an already difficult pandemic. “She was my everything. She was my best friend and my soulmate,” David wrote in the same Facebook post. “She was the brightest light I have ever known.”
In total, at least 14 members of the Kennedy family have died under tragic circumstances over the years. Maeve was the daughter of Maryland lieutenant governor, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend. She is also the granddaughter of Senator Robert F. Kennedy as well as the great-niece of former President John F. Kennedy, both of whom were assassinated in 1968 and 1963, respectively. Her extended family, lauded as an American political dynasty, has been beset by many recent tragedies as family members have passed in plane crashes, young deaths, and assassinations.
David and his family are still in the process of coping with both Maeve's death and their son's disappearance. “It is impossible to sum up Gideon here. I am heartbroken to even have to try it,” David continued in his post. “I used to marvel at him as a toddler and worry that he was too perfect to exist in this world. It seems to me now that he was.”
This is a developing story. We will update it as we know more.