Maryland police find body of missing Kennedy child after five-day search of Chesapeake Bay

Maria Puente, USA TODAY

After a five-day search, Maryland police have found the body of Gideon McKean, an 8-year-old descendant of Robert F. Kennedy who had been missing with his mother, Maeve Kennedy Townsend McKean, since last week when their canoe disappeared in the choppy waters of the Chesapeake Bay on April 2. 

The Maryland Natural Resources Police announced Wednesday that Gideon's body was recovered in 25 feet of water about two miles south of his grandmother’s residence in Shady Side, Maryland, where the canoe was launched.

Gideon Joseph Kennedy McKean's body was found about 2,000 feet from where the body of his mother, a granddaughter of RFK, was located on Monday

Alan Fleischmann, a family friend and spokesman, released a statement from her mother, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, the former lieutenant governor of Maryland. 

"On behalf of 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. They have helped us bring some closure to this terrible loss, and our family will always be grateful for their tireless work," the statement said. 

The search for the two had been carried out by multiple agencies, including the U.S. Coast Guard, and involved aviation and underwater imaging sonar technology.

The mother and son were reported missing after McKean, 40, and Gideon launched the canoe to retrieve a missing ball. 

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.

'She was my everything': Read husband's memorial of Kennedy descendant and their 8-year-old son

Police believe strong winds and heavy seas prevented the pair from paddling back to shore. After an initial search, their overturned canoe was found Friday a few miles from where they were last seen.

This undated image posted on Maeve Kennedy Townsend McKean's Twitter account shows her son Gideon Joseph Kennedy McKean, whose body was recovered from the Chesapeake Bay on April 8, 2020.

Maeve McKean was the daughter of David Lee Townsend and Kennedy Townsend, who is the eldest of the 11 children of Robert F. and Ethel Kennedy. McKean's great uncle was President John F. Kennedy.

A lawyer, she was the executive director of the Georgetown University Global Health Initiative and taught bioethics and human rights as an adjunct professor.

The family lives in Washington, D.C. but were self-isolating at her mother's bay side home due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Gov. Hogan confirmed the two were missing at a press conference on Friday and that an "intensive search" had been underway since late Thursday.

Their deaths add another in the toll of Kennedy family tragedies, and produced grieving tributes from their nearest and dearest.

More: The Kennedy curse: A look at how tragedy has historically followed this prominent family

Her husband, Washington human rights lawyer David McKean, with whom she shared two other children, posted a message on Facebook thanking people for the "overwhelming outpouring of love and support."

Kennedy Townsend said last week her family's "hearts are crushed" over "this devastating loss."

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Kennedy child's body found in Chesapeake Bay by Maryland police