This undated image posted on Maeve Kennedy Townsend McKean’s Facebook account shows her with her family, including her son Gideon Joseph Kennedy McKean, bottom right.
Photo: AP
Photo: AP

UPDATE: Authorities recover 8-year-old’s body in Chesapeake Bay

The body of Gideon McKean reportedly was recovered Wednesday, about 2,000 feet from the site of his mother’s remains, after a five-day search.


Gideon’s body was found 25 feet underwater at 1:40 p.m.,  said Mike Ricci, communications director of Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan.

His mother, Maeve Kennedy Townsend McKean, was found Monday night, according to Ricci, who cited the Maryland Natural Resources Police.


Authorities conducted a “recovery” search for Gideon, a grandson of former Maryland Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, after a canoe McKean and Gideon were paddling in the Chesapeake Bay didn’t return to shore, the family said.

The search involved aviation and underwater imaging sonar technology.

Both bodies were found about 2.5 miles from the spot the canoe entered the water at McKean’s mother’s residence in Shady Side, Maryland.

McKean, 40, and Gideon were presumed dead last weekend, according to a tweet from U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy III on Saturday morning.
In the tweet, he said the Kennedy family “has lost two of the brightest lights.”

“With profound sadness, I share the news that the search for my beloved daughter Maeve and grandson Gideon has turned from rescue to recovery,” Kathleen Kennedy Townsend said in a statement Friday night, according to news outlets.

The search started Thursday afternoon after the state Natural Resources Police responded to a report of two people on a canoe in the Chesapeake Bay who appeared to be overtaken by strong winds.
Photo: Anne Arundel County

Kennedy Townsend, who served two terms as Maryland’s lieutenant governor, is the eldest daughter of the late U.S. Attorney General and U.S. Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, and niece of the late President John F. Kennedy.

“I reached out to and spoke with Lt. Gov. Townsend this morning and on behalf of the people of Maryland I expressed our most heartfelt sympathies and prayers to her and to her entire family during this difficult time,” Hogan said Friday afternoon.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan identified the missing people as Maeve Kennedy Townsend McKean and her son Gideon.
Photo: Brian Witte/Associated Press

The search started Thursday afternoon after the state Natural Resources Police responded to a report of two people on a canoe in the Chesapeake Bay who appeared to be overtaken by strong winds.

A statement from the agency, which didn’t name the missing people, said they may have been paddling the canoe from a home in Shady Side, Maryland, to retrieve a ball and couldn’t paddle back to shore. An overturned canoe matching the one used by the missing people was found Thursday night, the agency said.

This undated image posted on Maeve Kennedy Townsend McKean's Twitter account shows her son Gideon Joseph Kennedy McKean.
Photo: AP

“News of this tragedy hit me and my family hard this morning,” said Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman. “We are holding Kathleen and her family in the light, and holding our own loved ones a little closer as we reflect on their pain and their loss,” he said in a statement.

Maeve McKean, a public health and human rights lawyer, served as executive director of the Georgetown University Global Health Initiative, news outlets reported. The initiative’s website says her work focused on “the intersection of global health and human rights.” McKean previously served as an associate research professor at the City University of New York School of Public Health.

“Our Maeve dedicated her life to society’s most vulnerable,” Kennedy Townsend said in a statement, adding that her grandson Gideon was a “loving” big brother who excelled at sports, riddles, math and chess. “My heart is 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.”

David McKean said his wife and son were at a family gathering at a waterfront house owned by Kennedy Townsend in Shady Side.  

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About 4 p.m. Thursday, children were kicking a ball back and forth in a yard and the ball went into the water, McKean said. He said his wife and son “popped into a canoe to chase it down. They just got farther out then they could handle and couldn’t get back in.” 

According to the Anne Arundel County Fire Department, a man called 911 about 4:30 p.m. Thursday to report he saw “two people in a small canoe or kayak drifting in the bay.”  

According to the Coast Guard, the caller said the boaters were “seen struggling to return to shore in a canoe” near Herring Bay and then were not seen again. 

The fire department then launched a water rescue team, and firefighters confirmed the sighting of two people in a small vessel several miles from the Columbia Beach community pier.

A kayak and a paddle were recovered about 7 p.m. After being called off for the night, the search resumed Friday. 

According to the fire department, an ocean storm off the East Coast drove gusts of up to 40 mph in the area at the time the two went missing.


Rich Barak of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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