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2 members of Kennedy family missing after canoe overturned

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The Maryland Natural Resources Police said a search was continuing for Maeve Kennedy Townsend McKean, 40, a granddaughter of Robert F Kennedy, and her son Gideon Joseph Kennedy McKean, 8.

[WASHINGTON] Two members of the Kennedy family were missing on Friday afternoon after their canoe overturned in strong winds in the Chesapeake Bay on Thursday, according to authorities.

The Maryland Natural Resources Police said a search was continuing for Maeve Kennedy Townsend McKean, 40, a granddaughter of Robert F Kennedy, and her son Gideon Joseph Kennedy McKean, 8.

"At this time, our family asks for privacy and that everyone keep Maeve and Gideon in their prayers," the family said in a statement.

Ms McKean, the executive director of the Georgetown University Global Health Initiative, is the daughter of Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, a former lieutenant governor of Maryland.

Robert F Kennedy Jr, Ms McKean's uncle, said his niece had been playing ball with her children in the yard at Ms Townsend's home, where they have been staying during the coronavirus pandemic, when the ball suddenly went into the water.

Ms McKean and Gideon jumped into a canoe to retrieve the ball, but the wind was so strong it "blew them out into the bay", Mr Kennedy said.

He said he wasn't sure if Ms McKean and her son were wearing life jackets.

"I would assume they weren't, because they were just retrieving a ball that was a few feet from shore," Mr Kennedy said on Friday from the West Coast. "They weren't going for a canoe ride."

The Natural Resources Police said a preliminary investigation had confirmed that the two may have paddled into Chesapeake Bay off Shady Side, Maryland, south of Annapolis, to retrieve a ball and were unable to paddle back to shore.

A concerned citizen who called 911 from the Columbia Beach community pier at 4.30pm reported seeing two people in a canoe "drifting in the bay", according to the Anne Arundel County Fire Department.

Boats, dive teams and helicopters from multiple law enforcement agencies began searching the bay, authorities said.

Around 7pm, an overturned canoe matching the description of the one Ms McKean and her son had been using was found, the Natural Resources Police said.

A full search involving members of the Natural Resources Police, the Maryland State Police, the US Coast Guard and local police and fire departments continued into Thursday night.

The Coast Guard continued to search overnight, and the Natural Resources Police returned to the area in the morning. According to the Coast Guard, there were two- to three-foot waves and 29 mph winds in the bay when the mother and son disappeared.

Governor Larry Hogan of Maryland called the disappearance "sad news". He said on Friday that an "intensive search" was underway and that he had spoken to Ms Townsend on Friday morning.

"On behalf of the people of Maryland, I expressed our most heartfelt sympathies and prayers to her and her entire family during this difficult time," he said.

The disappearance evoked other misfortunes that have befallen the famous family, known for producing a president, senators and other Democratic leaders.

Last August, Saoirse Kennedy Hill, 22, a granddaughter of Robert F Kennedy, died after what appeared to be an overdose at the family compound in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts.

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