The bodies of former Maryland Lieutenant Governor Kathleen Kennedy Townsend’s daughter Maeve, 40 and grandson Gideon, 8 have been found in the Chesapeake Bay, six days after they were lost in a canoeing accident.
Maeve Kennedy Townsend McKean’s body was found in 25 feet of water, about two and a half miles south of Kathleen Kennedy Townsend’s Shady Side home, Monday evening. Eight-year-old Gideon McKean’s remains were recovered Wednesday afternoon about 2,000 feet from where his mother’s were, according to Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP).
NRP says the mother and son launched a canoe on Thursday afternoon, possibly to retrieve a ball from the former Lieutenant Governor’s home where they were staying. The canoe was overtaken by strong seas and high wind. At the time, there was about a 12-knot steady breeze, with gusts closer to 20 knots. The water temperature was around 50 degrees.
A good Samaritan on shore reported seeing two people drifting out into the Bay. An extensive search by the Coast Guard, NRP, Maryland State Police and several local fire and police departments covered at least 3,600 square miles over 26 hours. The canoe and paddle were recovered around 7 p.m. Thursday off Rockhold Creek near Deale.
After search crews couldn’t find the victims on Friday, searching in more windy conditions, the rescue mission was suspended at 8 p.m. that night and a recovery operation began Saturday morning.
NRP, the Anne Arundel County Fire Department, and the Charles County dive team were conducting “surface search and side scan sonar operations” in the area of the Chesapeake between where the McKeans were last seen and where their canoe was found. Anne Arundel County Police and Maryland State Police helicopters have also been searching.
Over the weekend Kathleen Kennedy Townsend released a statement saying in part:
“Our hearts are crushed yet we will 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.”
Kathleen Kennedy Townsend was Lieutenant Governor under Maryand Governor Parris Glendening, serving from 1995 to 2003. Her daughter Maeve was the granddaughter of Robert F. Kennedy and great-niece of former president John F. Kennedy. Maeve was a human rights activist, PTA president, and a marathon runner, according to Kathleen Kennedy Townsend’s statement. She says eight-year-old Gideon was a star athlete and protective big brother to the two younger siblings he leaves behind, Gabriella and Toby.
–Meg Walburn Viviano