Gideon McKean was the son of Maeve Kennedy Townsend McKean. McKean, in turn, was Robert F. Kennedy’s granddaughter. A little over a week ago, the two got onto a canoe to retrieve a ball that had fallen into the water. A tragic, and ultimately fatal, accident followed. The two disappeared until just recently. Six days after the incident, authorities located Gideon’s body. After a thorough air and water search, they found Gideon’s body 2,000 feet from where his mother’s body had been found.
McKean’s mother and Gideon’s grandmother, former Maryland Lt. Gov. Kathleen Townsend Kennedy, thanked everyone involved in efforts to locate the two. Efforts included Gov. Hogan, Secretary Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio and a team of 50 experts from the Department of Natural Resources. She also recognized Anne Arundel, Charles County and the State Police for tireless work searching for her lost loved ones.
Gideon McKean and his mother disappeared in a tragic canoe accident
The day initially started like any other. McKean’s husband, David, explained, “Gideon and Maeve were playing kickball by the small, shallow cove behind the house, and one of them kicked the ball into the water.” His Facebook post then went on, “The cove is protected, with much calmer wind and water than in the greater Chesapeake.” The cove provides protection from wind but the open Chesapeake is more exposed to the elements. As a result, conditions can get rough.
Because of this, when they set out on a canoe to retrieve the ball, they had a hard time maintaining control. An onlooker onshore spotted Gideon and McKean struggling in the greater Chesapeake. The person on shore called 911. However, the duo vanished from sight. That was the last time anyone saw them alive. Later on Thursday, only the canoe and paddle turned up.
“He was brave”
Family members remember the late eight-year-old with fondness and admiration. Maeve McKean’s cousin, Tim Shriver, knew from interactions at family gatherings that Gideon “was his mother’s son.” Shriver elaborated, “Every bit as gutsy, every bit as daring, every bit as strong, and every bit as kind.” David McKean shared his own memories of the energetic, curious boy. “He spent hours upstairs reading, learning everything he could about sports, and trying to decipher the mysteries of the stock market.”
Gideon wanted every moment of every day to count. He had an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. When not playing sports, Gideon McKean also displayed a remarkable amount of wit. “For his school picture, he gathered a couple of his many friends to be in the shot with him.” But he did play sports quite often. David recalled, “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.” But David emphasizes another trait of Gideon’s. “And he was brave,” he added, “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.”