ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — The Coast Guard announced Friday that it has suspended a search and rescue mission for two missing boaters in the Chesapeake Bay who are members of the Kennedy family.
The missing boaters are 40-year-old Maeve Kennedy Townsend McKean, and her eight-year-old son Gideon. They are now looking for their bodies.
McKean is the daughter of former Maryland lieutenant governor Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and the granddaughter of Robert F. Kennedy.
“With profound sadness, I share the news that the search for my beloved daughter Maeve and grandson Gideon has turned from rescue to recovery,” Kennedy Townsend said in a statement. “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.”
McKean was the executive director of the Georgetown University Global Health Initiative in Washington D.C. where the family resides. She married her husband David in 2009 and they have two other children, 7-year-old Gabriella and 2-year-old Toby.
David McKean issued a statement on Facebook and said, in part:
“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. The search that began yesterday afternoon went on throughout the night and continued all day today. It is now dark again. 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,” McKean said. “The search for their recovery will continue, and I hope that that will be successful.”
Maryland DNR officials said the pair were reported missing around 4:49 p.m. Thursday near Herring Bay in Shady Side. According to officials, they had paddled out to retrieve a ball and were unable to paddle back to shore.
Watchstanders with the Coast Guard got word from the Maryland State Police that two people were seen struggling to return to shore in a canoe and they were not seen again. A man had called 911 from the Columbia Beach community pier where he saw the boaters drifting in the Bay.
At approximately 7:00 p.m., an overturned canoe, matching the approximate description of the one which the pair were in, and a paddle was located near Deale, Maryland, according to Anne Arundel County Fire.
Weather conditions were blustery Thursday with wind gusts between 30 to 35 mph. However, there weren’t any special warnings for boaters issued.
The search ended for the night around 7:30 p.m. Thursday and began again Friday morning.
Gov. Larry Hogan addressed the search in his press conference Friday.
“On behalf of the people of Maryland I expressed our heartfelt sympathies and prayers during this difficult time,” Hogan said of a conversation he had with former lieutenant governor Townsend Friday afternoon.
Several teams, an Air Station Atlantic City MH-65 Dolphin Helicopter aircrew, Coast Guard Station Annapolis 45-foot Response Boat-Medium boat crew, an Air Station Elizabeth City C-130 Hercules aircrew and a Coast Guard Station Inigoes boat crew, were among those searching.
“A total of 19 vessels and five aircraft have been out there searching. They have covered over 2,700 square miles of water looking for the two individuals,” Matthew Fine, a Coast Guard commander, told WJZ.
The Queen Anne Police Department, Arundel Police and Fire Departments, Maryland Natural Resource Police, and Maryland State Police were also assisting in the search.
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources said it would continue its search early Saturday morning.
The Coast Guard released a statement on Friday about its decision to suspend the search:
“This was a difficult case, and even more difficult to make the decision to suspend the search,” said Commander 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.”
Anyone with additional information regarding this case should contact the Sector Maryland command center at 410-576-2525 or call Maryland Natural Resources Police at 800-628-9944 or VHF Channel 16.
An update: the body of Maeve McKean was recovered on Monday. The body of Gideon McKean was recovered on Wednesday.