A grand-niece of President John F. Kennedy and her son were feared dead after rowing into the rough Chesapeake Bay in Maryland to recover a soccer ball — and disappearing under the choppy waters, authorities and witnesses said Friday as quoted by New York Post.
Maeve Kennedy Townsend McKean, the granddaughter of Robert F. Kennedy, and her 8-year-old son, Gideon Joseph Kennedy McKean, got into the canoe around 4 p.m. Thursday outside her mother’s home in Shady Side, according to the Washington Post.
The child had been kicking a ball with other kids when it fell into the water, and the pair went to retrieve it amid high winds, her husband, David McKean, told the paper.
“[They] popped into a canoe to chase it down. They just got farther out than they could handle, and couldn’t get back in,” David McKean said.
The pair was later sucked into the South River, Gov. Larry Hogan said at a press conference Friday.
McKean, 40, is the daughter of former Maryland Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, who she was visiting when the tragedy struck.
A concerned person called authorities around 4:30 p.m. Thursday to say he had seen the canoe near the Columbia Beach pier, according to Capt. Erik Kornmeyer, a spokesman for the Anne Arundel County Fire Department.
The caller reported that boaters were “seen struggling to return to shore in a canoe” near Herring Bay amid high winds before vanishing, the Coast Guard said. Rescuers searched for the missing pair until nightfall Thursday and began again Friday morning, to no avail.
Kathleen Kennedy Townsend said in a statement Friday night that the search for her daughter had turned “from rescue to recovery.” A spokesman for the US Coast Guard told The Washington Post the wind in that part of the bay reached about 30 mph Thursday afternoon, with waves 2 to 3 feet high.
The Kennedy family has been plagued by tragedies ranging from the assassinations of McKean’s grandfather and great-uncle to the death of her cousin Saoirse Kennedy Hill last year.