Kennedy family: Canoeing incident latest tragedy for star-crossed dynasty

Kennedy family Canoeing incident latest tragedy for star-crossed dynasty

The Kennedy family has been politically powerful, glamorous -- and wracked with tragedy.

The descendants of Joseph P. Kennedy Sr. and Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy have included a president, senators and congressmen. But along with the glory, there has been unspeakable sorrow. President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, and his brother, Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, five years later.

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Tragedy has followed into the newer generations of Kennedys, with plane crashes, drug overdoses, and now, a canoeing incident in Maryland involving Robert Kennedy’s granddaughter and great-grandson.

The Kennedy family said Friday night that the search for Maeve Kennedy Townsend McKean, 40, and her 8-year-old son, Gideon Joseph Kennedy McKean, had turned into a recovery mission. The Coast Guard later said it had suspended the search for the duo.

McKean’s husband, David, said in a Facebook post that, “It is clear that Maeve and Gideon have passed away.”

It is the latest tragedy involving a member of the Kennedy family. Here is a history:

Joseph Patrick Kennedy Jr.: The oldest of Joseph and Rose Kennedy’s children, Joseph Kennedy Jr. was a Navy pilot during World War II. He flew many combat missions but died in an in-flight mission Aug. 12, 1944. He was 29 and was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross.

Kathleen Kennedy Cavendish: Nicknamed “Kick,” Cavendish, served as a Red Cross volunteer during World War II. She married British nobleman William Cavendish, the marquess of Hartington, who died shortly after going into the service. “Kick” was killed in a plane crash in France on May 13, 1948. She was 28.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy: The nation’s 35th president was assassinated while riding in an open-car motorcade in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963. He was 46.

Robert Francis Kennedy: Kennedy served as attorney general in John F. Kennedy’s cabinet and later was elected a U.S. senator from New York. He was assassinated in the kitchen of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, moments after making a celebratory speech after winning California’s Democratic presidential primary in 1968. He lingered for a day before dying June 6, 1968. He was 46.

David Anthony Kennedy: The son of Robert F. Kennedy and Ethel Skakel Kennedy was 28 when he was found dead in a Palm Beach, Florida, hotel room April 25, 1984. Kennedy had been battling addiction for years. His death was attributed to an overdose of cocaine, Demerol and Mellaril.

MIchael LeMoyne Kennedy: Another son of Robert and Ethel’ Kennedy, Michael Kennedy died in a skiing accident in Aspen, Colorado, on Dec. 31, 1997. He was 39. Kennedy, an experienced skier, crashed into a tree while playing a “dangerous” alpine sport, according to The New York Times.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy Jr.: The son of the president was killed July 16, 1999, when the small plane he was piloting crashed into the ocean near Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. He was 38. Also dying in the crash were his wife, Carolyn Bessette Kennedy, and his sister-in-law, Lauren Bessette.

Saoirse Kennedy Hill: A granddaughter of Robert F. Kennedy, Saorise Kennedy died of an accidental overdose Aug. 1, 2019, at the Kennedy compound in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, The New York Times reported. She was 22.

Information from newspaper archives was used in compiling this report.

Tragedy has followed the large family of Joseph and Rose Kennedy, seen during a 1930s portrait, and their descendants.
Tragedy has followed the large family of Joseph and Rose Kennedy, seen during a 1930s portrait, and their descendants. (Bachrach/Getty Images)