Kennedy Granddaughter and 8-Year-Old Son Presumed Dead in Drowning Accident

Kathleen Kennedy Townsend announces her daughter Maeve Kennedy and her 8-year-old grandson Gideon are feared dead in drowing accident

By Cydney Contreras Apr 04, 2020 1:50 AMTags
Watch: Kennedy Family Members Missing After Canoeing Accident

The search for Maeve and Gideon Kennedy is over.

On Friday evening, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend revealed in a statement that the "search for [her] beloved daughter Maeve and grandson Gideon has turned from rescue to recovery." Maeve's husband, David McKean, shared his own remarks on Facebook, which read in part, "It has been more than 24 hours, and the chances they have survived are impossibly small. It is clear that Maeve and Gideon have passed away."

The mother and son were reported missing on Thursday afternoon after they failed to return from a ride in a canoe on the Chesapeake Bay near Annapolis, Maryland. According to ABC4 News in Maryland, Maeve and Gideon went out on the water "to retrieve a ball and were unable to paddle back to shore."

Now, authorities have confirmed the two are presumed to be dead after drowning in a canoeing accident.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced in a press conference, "I reached out to and spoke with lieutenant Governor Townsend this morning and, on behalf of the people of Maryland, I expressed out most heartfelt sympathies and prayers to her and to her entire family during this difficult time."

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The Kennedy-Townsend family expressed gratitude for the "outpouring of love and prayers."

Mike Pont/Getty Images for Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights

They added in their statement that they hope Maeve is remembered for her devotion to "helping society's most vulnerable" and, most importantly, for being a mother. "Her husband, David, and their children, Gideon, Gabriella, and Toby, were the great joys of her life. The role she treasured most was mom," they shared.

As for Gideon, they say he took after his "parents in the most extraordinary ways." They stated he will always be remembered for being "a loving and protective big brother to Gabriella and Toby."

In his own statement, Maeve's husband responded to the "many questions" being asked about the accident. 

"Here is what I have come to understand," McKean wrote. "We were self-quarantining in an empty house owned by Maeve's mother Kathleen on the Chesapeake Bay, hoping to give our kids more space than we have at home in DC to run around. Gideon and Maeve were playing kickball by the small, shallow cove behind the house, and one of them kicked the ball into the water. The cove is protected, with much calmer wind and water than in the greater Chesapeake. They got into a canoe, intending simply to retrieve the ball, and somehow got pushed by wind or tide into the open bay. About 30 minutes later they were spotted by an onlooker from land, who saw them far out from shore, and called the police. After that last sighting, they were not seen again. The Coast Guard recovered their canoe, which was capsized and miles away, at approximately 6:30 yesterday evening."

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The father also shared an update on how the couple's two younger children are coping with the unimaginable losses. 

"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," McKean said. 

His post concluded, "As Gabriella and Toby lay sleeping next to me last night, I promised them that I would do my best to be the parent that Maeve was, and to be the person that Gideon clearly would have grown up to be. Part of that is keeping their memories alive. Any help with that would be welcome."

Maeve is the granddaughter of Robert F. Kennedy and is survived by the many relatives of the Kennedy family.