Facebook/mckean.david. | Getty Images.
Facebook/mckean.david. | Getty Images.

RFK’s Granddaughter Maeve and Great Grandson Gideon Were Trying to Paddle to a Ball According to Witness

Odette Odendaal
Apr 15, 2020
04:30 A.M.

With the audio of the 911 call in aid of Maeve Kennedy McKean and her son Gideon released, it provided chilling details to the last time they were seen alive earlier this month.


On April 2, a man on Columbia Beach in Shady Side, Maryland, spotted a yellow canoe with what looked to be two children inside paddling to get to shore despite being blown by the wind down the Chesapeake Bay.

David McKean, Maeve Kennedy Townsend Mckean and family attend the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Hosts 2019 Ripple Of Hope Gala & Auction In NYC on December 12, 2019, in New York City. | Source: Getty Images.

David McKean, Maeve Kennedy Townsend Mckean and family attend the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Hosts 2019 Ripple Of Hope Gala & Auction In NYC on December 12, 2019, in New York City. | Source: Getty Images.


Maeve and Gideon tried to paddle to a ball that landed in a protected cove while playing, but then the wind picked up. The man said that "they just went by" as the wind pushed them further south.

The man decided to call 911, and in reply to the dispatcher's question of whether he thought the pair was in an emergency situation, he said, "I think so."

When the man placed the call at 4:30 pm, he had no idea that the two occupants of the canoe were Maeve and her son.




About five minutes later, first responders arrived at Columbia Beach's pier, where they caught a last glimpse of the mother and son before they drifted out of sight - still very much alive.

According to the County Fire Department Captain, Russ Davies, the canoe had drifted far away from the pier, with both occupants still safely inside.

Sadly, that became the last time anyone saw Maeve and her son Gideon alive. That evening authorities found their capsized canoe and paddle, but no sign of the pair.



Despite the best efforts of rescue workers, they only found Maeve's body four days later about two and a half miles from where they first entered the water.

The search for Gideon continued, and they found his body two days later, about 2,000 feet away from where authorities found his mom. While Maeve's cause of death has been determined as an accidental drowning, Gideon's is still pending.



Since the family couldn't be with each other amid social distancing regulations due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, they gathered for a memorial service remotely on Saturday.

After Maeve's sister Kat and her husband Tyson worked with Zoom's tech department to make an online memorial service possible, over 3,000 attendees joined in mourning the loss of Maeve and Gideon.

Special performances by Melissa Etheridge, Natasha Bedingfield, and Kenny Chesney took place during the remote memorial service, where Maeve's husband, David, her mother Kathleen, and others paid tribute to the pair.



According to authorities, Maeve and Gideon entered the water from just behind their waterfront residence north of Columbia Beach. Although the cove is shallow and small, the winds were strong and swept them into the greater Chesapeake Bay area.

The National Park Service said that most of the waterways in the area are suitable for inexperienced boaters, but when the wind picks up, sections of the rivers "can funnel wind and develop nasty, choppy seas."

Ray Martin, a senior meteorologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Baltimore office, called the bay area an "odd combination between a lake and a part of the ocean."

New York Governor, Andre Cuomo, whose daughters are Maeve's cousins, also expressed his heartbreak and said that the "tragedy" is "emotionally taxing" since the family can't mourn together.

However, thanks to technology and the Zoom application, almost 120 Kennedy family members came together to celebrate Maeve and Gideon's lives, and to grieve their loss.

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