kennedy family tragedy
Rest in peace

Robert F. Kennedy's missing granddaughter and son pass away in tragic accident

Maeve Kennedy Townsen and son Gideon went missing after a canoe accident

The Kennedy family mourns another tragedy. David McKean confirmed on Friday, April 3 that the rescue search for his wife Maeve Kennedy Townsen and 8-year-old son Gideon has been suspended one day after the pair went missing in Maryland from a canoe accident. “Despite heroic efforts by the Coast Guard and many state and local authorities, the decision has now been made to suspend the active rescue effort,” David began in an emotional Facebook statement.

Maeve Kennedy Townsend McKean and Gideon©Facebook
Maeve Kennedy Townsend McKean and 8-year-old son Gideon

“The search that began yesterday afternoon went on throughout the night and continued all day today,” he continued. “It is now dark again. It has been more than 24 hours, and the chances they have survived are impossibly small.” Further confirming the horrific, he added: “It is clear that Maeve and Gideon have passed away.”

The accident started with a breezy mother-son game of kickball on Thursday, April 2. Senator Robert F. Kennedy’s 40-year-old granddaughter was enjoying some fresh air with her son on her mother’s sprawling waterfront property in Shady Side, Maryland.

“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,” David explained. “Gideon and Maeve were playing kickball by the small, shallow cove behind the house, and one of them kicked the ball into the water.”

Maeve and Gideon got into a canoe to retrieve the lost ball. Despite the protected cove, which David said has “much calmer wind and water than in the greater Chesapeake,” they “somehow got pushed by wind or tide into the open bay.” Roughly 30 minutes later, an onlooker spotted them from the shore and alerted police. That was the last time they were seen.

Around 6:30 p.m., the canoe was found capsized miles away by the Coast Guard, with no sign of Maeve or Gideon. David went on to pay tribute to his beloveds, dubbing Maeve his “everything.” He wrote: “She was my best friend and my soulmate. I am terrified by the idea that this will fade over time. You could hear Maeve’s laugh a block away—and she laughed a lot. She was magical—with endless energy that she would put toward inventing games for our children, taking on another project at work or in our community, and spending time with our friends.”

kennedy family tragedy©Facebook
David, Maeve, Gideon, Gabriella and Toby

David called his son Gideon a “deeply compassionate” boy and “incredibly social, athletic, and courageous.” The pair also have children Gabriella, 7, and Toby, 2.

Maeve’s mother, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, also confirmed that the rescue mission had turned to a recovery search. “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 told PEOPLE. “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.”

Kathleen said Gideon was “a star athlete who loved soccer, golf, and running,” just like his mom. “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.”