Washington: The body of one of two Kennedy family members who went missing last week when their canoe capsised in the Chesapeake Bay was recovered on Monday, the authorities said.
The Maryland Natural Resources Police said Monday night that it had found the body of Maeve Kennedy Townsend McKean, 40, a granddaughter of Robert F. Kennedy. It said the search would continue for her son, Gideon McKean, 8.
McKean’s body was recovered in 25 feet of water about 5km south of her mother’s residence in Shady Side, Maryland, where the two family members set off in their canoe on Thursday, officials said.
Emergency responders searched the area by helicopter and used sonar technology, and divers also aided the search, the authorities said. They said McKean’s body was found at 5.31pm.
McKean and her son had jumped into the canoe to retrieve a ball that went into the bay, and they were unable to paddle back to shore, according to the family and the Natural Resources Police.
Vibrant person and extraordinary mother
Earlier on Monday, Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy III of Massachusetts, McKean’s cousin, remembered her as a vibrant person and an extraordinary mother in a video posted on Twitter.
“Maeve was my cousin closest in age who I looked up to,” Kennedy said, adding that she was “the person that convinced me to go into the Peace Corps.”
Kennedy thanked the public for its prayers and said that Gideon was a sparkling 8-year-old. “The pain hurts,” he said.
In a statement late Friday, McKean’s mother, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, a former lieutenant governor of Maryland, said the family was in mourning.
“My family thanks all for the outpouring of love and prayers as we grieve and try to bear this devastating loss,” she said.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr., McKean’s uncle, said his niece had been with her children in the yard at Townsend’s home, where McKean’s family has been staying during the coronavirus pandemic.
Pushed by the wind
McKean and her children had been playing kickball in a shallow cove behind the house when one of them kicked the ball into the water, said David McKean, Maeve McKean’s husband and the boy’s father.
“The cove is protected, with much calmer wind and water than in the greater Chesapeake,” he wrote in a Facebook post. “They got into a canoe, intending simply to retrieve the ball, and somehow got pushed by wind or tide into the open bay.”
A concerned citizen saw two people in a canoe “drifting in the bay” and called 911 from the Columbia Beach community pier at 4.30pm, according to the Anne Arundel County Fire Department.
“After that last sighting, they were not seen again,” McKean wrote.
According to the Coast Guard, there were 2- to 3-foot waves and 46kmph winds in the bay when the mother and son disappeared off Shady Side, about a 30-minute drive south of Annapolis.
Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland called the disappearance “sad news.” He said that he had spoken to Townsend on Friday morning.
“On behalf of the people of Maryland, I expressed our most heartfelt sympathies and prayers to her and her entire family during this difficult time,” he said.
McKean was the executive director of the Georgetown University Global Health Initiative. She was also a Peace Corps volunteer and served on the board of the Brady Campaign and the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights organization, Townsend said Friday.
“Our Maeve devoted her life to helping society’s most vulnerable,” she said.
Maeve and David McKean had three children: Gideon, Gabriella and Toby.
“Gideon, like his mom, was a star athlete who loved soccer, golf, and running,” Townsend said. “He took after his parents in the most extraordinary ways.”
David McKean described Gideon as a compassionate boy who could spend hours reading and loved sports.
“I used to marvel at him as a toddler and worry that he was too perfect to exist in this world,” McKean wrote. “It seems to me now that he was.”
“Maeve turned 40 in November,” he added, “and she was my everything.”
The disappearance evoked other misfortunes that have befallen the famous family, known for producing a president, senators and other Democratic leaders. In August, Saoirse Kennedy Hill, 22, a granddaughter of Robert F. Kennedy, died after what appeared to be an overdose at the family compound in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts.