Body of Townsend’s Grandson Found in the Cheseapeake

    The body of Gideon Joseph Kennedy McKean, the 8-year-old grandson of former Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend (D), was found in the Chesapeake Bay Wednesday afternoon, six days after the canoe he and his mother were paddling capsized.

    Maryland Natural Resources Police reported that authorities found the boy’s body in 25 feet of water, about 2,000 feet from where they found his mother’s body on Monday — and about 2 1/2 miles from Townsend’s home in Shady Side. The two had disappeared on Thursday after the canoe they were paddling got swept out into rougher waters.

    Gideon’s mother, Maeve Kennedy Townsend McKean, 40, was the second of four daughters to Townsend and her ex-husband, David Townsend — and a granddaughter of the late New York Sen. Robert F. Kennedy.

    McKean’s family, who live in Washington, D.C., were staying at Townsend’s home along the bay so they could have more space for outdoor play during stay-at-home orders brought on by the COVID-19 outbreak. McKean and her son were playing kickball in the backyard when a ball inadvertently fell into the water. They jumped into a canoe to retrieve it, but the currents and winds swept them out to a more exposed part of the bay, authorities said, and they were unable to make it back to shore.

    McKean was a public health and human rights lawyer who most recently was the director of the Georgetown University Global Health Initiative. She is survived by her husband, David McKean, who is also a public interest attorney, and two children, Gabriella, 7, and Toby, 2.

    The former lieutenant governor released a statement late Wednesday praising the rescue authorities who searched for her family members.

    “On behalf our family, I want to share our heartfelt gratitude to Governor 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,” she wrote. “They have helped us bring some closure to this terrible loss, and our family will always be grateful for their tireless work.”

    The Rev. William E. Lori, archbishop of Baltimore and chairman of the Board of Governors for the Maryland Catholic Conference, offered condolences.

    “Our hearts and prayers are with the Townsend and McKean families at this time of tragedy and sorrow,” he said. “In this holiest of weeks, we turn to our Lord to bring comfort to the family of Maeve and Gideon McKean, and to grant unto them eternal peace.”

    Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) also offered condolences.

    “Please continue to keep their family in your prayers as they mourn this devastating loss,” he said in a tweet, adding, “I want to sincerely thank the @MDNRPolice and all of the agencies and dedicated personnel who worked around the clock to support this recovery mission.”

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    Josh Kurtz
    Co-founder and Editor Josh Kurtz is the leading chronicler of Maryland politics and government. He began covering the State House in 1995 for The Gazette newspapers, and has been writing about state and local politics ever since. He later became an editor at Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper, and spent eight years at E&E News, an online subscription-only publisher of news websites covering energy and environmental issues. For seven of those years, he led a staff of 20 reporters at E&E Daily, which covers energy and environmental policy on Capitol Hill and in national politics. For 6 1/2 years he wrote a weekly column on state politics for Center Maryland and has written for several other Maryland publications as well. Kurtz has given speeches and appeared on TV and radio shows about Maryland politics through the years.