Chesapeake Bay recovery mission resumes for Kennedy Townsend’s daughter, grandson

Tribune Content Agency

BALTIMORE — Maryland Natural Resources Police resumed Saturday an effort to recover former Maryland Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend’s missing daughter and grandson, who were last seen struggling in a canoe in the Chesapeake Bay on Thursday.

Townsend said in a statement Friday night that the search had “turned from rescue to recovery.”

Maeve McKean, 41, and son, Gideon Joseph Kennedy McKean, 8, were last seen about 10 miles south of Annapolis near Herring Bay. Authorities said the pair’s canoe was found overturned at about 7 p.m. Friday, east of Rockhold Creek in Deale.

Natural Resources Police said they were working with the Anne Arundel County Fire Department and police aviation unit, the Maryland State Police K-9 and aviation units and the Charles County Sheriff’s Office Dive Team to continue the “recovery effort” on Saturday.

“Vessels are underway today conducting surface search and side scan sonar operations in the Chesapeake Bay around the area between where the subjects were last seen and their canoe was recovered,” with the aviation and K-9 units “also assisting with search efforts,” Natural Resources Police said.

The U.S. Coast Guard said it had called off its rescue mission Friday.

Maeve McKean is the granddaughter of Robert F. Kennedy, the former U.S. attorney general and New York senator who was former president John F. Kennedy’s brother. Tragedy has famously followed the extended Kennedy family, with both Robert and John Kennedy having been assassinated, and multiple family members dying in other sudden accidents.

The Coast Guard said it had searched a combined total of 3,658 square miles over air, sea and land.

“This was a difficult case, and even more difficult to make the decision to suspend the search,” Cmdr. Matthew Fine, deputy sector commander at the Sector Maryland-National Capitol Region command center, said Friday. “Our crews and partners did everything they could to find them. We’ve kept the family informed at every step during the search, and our thoughts are with them tonight.”

Maeve McKean works as a public health and human rights lawyer and executive director of Georgetown University’s Global Health Initiative, a university-wide research and service program. In addition to Gideon, she and her husband David have two other children: Gabriella, 7, and Toby, 2.

In a statement Saturday, John T. Monahan, a senior adviser to Georgetown University President John J. DeGioia and longtime colleague and friend of McKean, said the university community was “heartsick” over her and her son’s disappearance.

Monahan called McKean a “brilliant, passionate, and energetic advocate for human rights and social justice, especially for women and girls and communities impacted by HIV/AIDS.”

“Maeve also brought her characteristic enthusiasm to engaging, inspiring, and mentoring a new generation of Georgetown global health students through her teaching in the classroom and her leadership of an innovative fellowship program for aspiring leaders,” he said.

Townsend, in her own statement, called her daughter “vivid.”

“You always knew when she was in a room,” she said. “Her laughter was loud, unabashed, and infectious. She did everything with her full self and her whole heart. She gave the best hugs, sang loudly and out of tune, danced, wrestled, argued, forgave.”

Her grandson, “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. He loved riddles, math, chess, and adventures.”


(Baltimore Sun Media reporters Lillian Reed, Jeff Barker, Alex Mann, Jean Marbella and McKenna Oxenden contributed to this article.)


©2020 The Baltimore Sun

Visit The Baltimore Sun at

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.