RFK’s 8-Year-Old Great-Grandson’s Body Found 6 Days After Canoe Accident, Police Confirm

The body of Robert F. Kennedy's great-grandson, Gideon McKean, has been found six days after the eight-year-old went missing while canoeing with his mother.

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Maeve McKean
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UPDATE, 4/9/20, 10:12am ET: Former Maryland Lt. Gov. Kathleen Townsend Kennedy, released a statement to People following the deaths of her daughter and grandson: “On behalf our family, I want to share our heartfelt gratitude to Gov. [Larry] Hogan, Secretary Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio and the team of more than 50 professionals from the Department of Natural Resources, Anne Arundel, Charles County and the State Police, who spent these last days searching for our fierce and loving Maeve and Gideon.”

ORIGINAL: Eight-year-old Gideon McKean‘s body was found 2000 feet away from where the body of his mother, Maeve Kennedy Townsend McKean, had been uncovered on April 6, according to police. The pair had vanished six days earlier after paddling a canoe into the dangerous, choppy waters of the Chesapeake Bay. An air and water search led authorities to locate the bodies two and a half miles away from where they launched their canoe — Maeve’s mother Kathleen Kennedy Townsend‘s waterfront property in Shady Side, Maryland. The duo had headed into the water to retrieve a lost ball, according to Maeve’s husband, and Gideon’s father, David McKean, who announced their presumed deaths via Facebook on April 3.

High winds led Maeve and Gideon into choppy water and towering waves on April 2, where they ultimately suffered their deadly accident. The same day that Gideon’s body was recovered, the Chief Medical Examiner of Maryland announced separately that Maeve, 40, the granddaughter of late Senator Robert F. Kennedy‘s cause of death was officially an accidental drowning. David grieved the loss of his young son, and his wife of 11 years, with whom he shares two more children: Gabrielle, 7, and Toby, 2.

In his heartbreaking Facebook post, David called Maeve his “everything,” and spoke lovingly about his little boy. “Gideon was 8, but he may as well have been 38. He was deeply compassionate, declining to sing children’s songs if they contained a hint of animals or people being treated cruelly. He hated if I accidentally let a bad word slip. He spent hours upstairs reading, learning everything he could about sports, and trying to decipher the mysteries of the stock market. But he was also incredibly social, athletic, and courageous,” David wrote.

“For his school picture, he gathered a couple of his many friends to be in the shot with him. He played every sport he could, complaining to me that even though he was often playing six days a week, there was still that seventh day, and why hadn’t I signed him up for something else. And he was brave, leading his friends in games, standing up to people who he thought were wrong (including his parents), and relishing opportunities to go on adventures with friends, even those he’d just met. It is impossible to sum up Gideon here. I am heartbroken to even have to try. I used to marvel at him as a toddler and worry that he was too perfect to exist in this world. It seems to me now that he was.”