ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP/WTNH) — The search for the daughter and a grandson of former Maryland Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend has turned from “rescue to recovery.”
The search for Maeve Kennedy Townsend McKean, 40, and McKean’s 8-year-old son, Gideon Joseph Kennedy McKean began after a canoe they were paddling in the Chesapeake Bay didn’t return to shore.
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.
A statement from her Friday night read:
With profound sadness, I share the news that the search for my beloved daughter Maeve and grandson Gideon has turned from rescue to recovery. Our Maeve devoted her life to helping society’s most vulnerable. She was a Peace Corps Volunteer who pursued a career in law to give voice to the voiceless. She was Executive Director of the Georgetown University Global Health Initiative and taught bioethics and human rights as an adjunct professor, where she gave hope to those who need it most. Maeve served on the board of the Brady Campaign and Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, where she honored the standard that we are all defined by the plight of those society leaves behind. She was a PTA president, a soccer star, and a marathon runner.
Maeve was vivid. You always knew when she was in a room. 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. Maeve shone. The fire emanating from her soul warmed us all. Her husband, David, and their children, Gideon, Gabriella, and Toby, were the great joys of her life. The role she treasured most was mom.
Gideon, like his mom, was a star athlete who loved soccer, golf, and running. He took after his parents in the most extraordinary ways. He loved riddles, math, chess, and adventures. He loved to invent new games with his mom and share them with us all. Gideon was a loving and protective big brother to Gabriella and Toby. And she was the most wonderful sister to Meaghan, Kat, and Kerry.
When my uncle Ted eulogized my father, he offered a prayer that what daddy was to his family, and what he wished for others, would someday come to pass for all the world. This is our prayer for Maeve and Gideon.
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. My family thanks all for the outpouring of love and prayers as we grieve and try to bear this devastating loss.
The Coast Guard announced that it had ended its search Friday night.
“This was a difficult case, and even more difficult to make the decision to suspend the search,” said Cmdr. Matthew Fine, deputy sector commander and active search suspension authority at Sector Maryland-National Capitol Region command center. “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.”
Coast Guard personnel searched a combined total of 3,658 square miles over air, sea and land over a period of 26 hours.
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 on Thursday night, the agency said.
“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.
The Maryland State Police, U.S. Coast Guard, and local police and fire departments joined in the search.
ABC News received a statement on behalf of the family by Alan Fleischmann:
“At this time, our family asks for privacy and that everyone keep Maeve and Gideon in their prayers.”