2 missing after canoe trip in Anne Arundel Co. are Kennedy family members

Old Coast Guard Lifesavers(Getty Images/iStockphoto/peterseagull)

The two missing after a canoe trip in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, since Thursday are former Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend’s daughter and grandson.

Maryland’s Natural Resources Police said Saturday that a dive team, sonars and planes are being used in what is now a recovery effort for Maeve Townsend McKean, 41, and her 8-year-old son Gideon, who are presumed to be dead.

Gov. Larry Hogan spoke briefly on the search efforts at a news conference Friday afternoon, saying he spoke to Townsend earlier and shared his “heartfelt sympathies” to her and her family.

At the time, Hogan said an “intensive search” is underway for McKean and her son.

In a statement Friday night, Townsend said the search has turned “from rescue to recovery.”

“Our hearts are 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,” Townsend said. “My family thanks all for the outpouring of love and prayers as we grieve and try to bear this devastating loss.”

Maeve’s husband, David McKean, wrote in a Facebook post Friday night that “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 search for their recovery will continue, and I hope that that will be successful,” McKean wrote.

David McKean, Maeve Kennedy Townsend Mckean and family attend a gala on Dec. 12, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Pont/Getty Images for Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights)

On Thursday, officials received a call from the Columbia Beach community pier from someone who saw two people in a small canoe or kayak drifting in the bay. Firefighters confirmed the sighting of two people in a small vessel several miles from the area drifting south in the Chesapeake Bay.

The U.S. Coast Guard said the two “were seen struggling to return to shore in a canoe near Herring Bay and not seen again by the reporting individual.”

Rescue crews searched for the pair 10 miles south of Annapolis, near Herring Bay.

McKean and her son may have been overtaken by strong winds, according to a report to Maryland Natural Resources Police.

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, The Associated Press reported.

David McKean said the two were playing kickball, when one of them kicked the ball into the water.

The vessel and a paddle were recovered Thursday night east of Rockhold Creek in Deale, Maryland, by U.S. Coast Guard and the Fireboat from the City of Annapolis Fire Department.

Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman said “news of this tragedy hit me and my family hard this morning.”

“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.

Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot tweeted his sympathies on Friday, calling McKean and her son’s disappearance an “unimaginable tragedy.”

McKean is a public health and human rights lawyer, and works as the executive director of Georgetown University’s Global Health Initiative.

Townsend served as lieutenant governor from 1995 to 2003. She is the eldest daughter of the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy and the niece of the late President John F. Kennedy.

She reflected on her daughter and grandson’s legacies in a statement released through a spokesman.

Anyone with more information about this case can call the U.S. Coast Guard Sector Maryland command center at (410) 576-2525.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect that McKean and her son were in a canoe, per the latest information from the U.S. Coast Guard.

WTOP’s Teta Alim and The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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