Ethel Kennedy and Saoirse's Devastated Mother Emerge from the Family Compound to Mourn the Student

Saoirse Kennedy Hill, whose parents are Courtney Kennedy Hill and Paul Hill, died Thursday after a suspected overdose at her family's Massachusetts compound

The Kennedy family is turning to the water as they try to cope with the tragic loss of their beloved granddaughter and daughter, Saoirse Kennedy Hill.

On Friday, family matriarch Ethel Kennedy decided to take several of her grieving family members, including Saoirse’s mother Courtney Kennedy Hill, for an hour and a half sail through Hyannis Port aboard their yawl, the Glide.

The water has long been a place where the Kennedy family has found comfort and familiarity, as they’ve spent many summer days sailing, swimming, and enjoying the outdoors at their six-acre waterfront property overlooking the Hyannis Harbor.

After their sail, the Glide pulled up to the Hyannis Port Yacht Club pier, where a grieving Ethel, 91, and Courtney, 62, were quickly met by a golf cart, driven by Max Kennedy’s wife Victoria.

Ethel Kennedy, Courtney Kennedy Hill
Ethel Kennedy (left) and daughter Courtney Kennedy Hill after Saoirse’s death. Craig F. Walker/Getty Images

The trio was comforting each other, with Courtney’s arm around Ethel and Victoria’s arm around Courtney, as they silently made their way to the family’s famed compound.

Ethel and Courtney also wore matching straw sun hats and dark sunglasses and looked somber as they were driven away from the pier.

The rest of the family members, meanwhile, used alternative ways to get to the famed estate, which had a flag at half staff in front of Ethel’s house — the same place where Saoirse, 22, was found on Thursday after a suspected overdose, a source told PEOPLE.

Kennedy family
The Kennedy family on their boat. Craig F. Walker/Getty Images

On Friday, the local prosecutor’s office confirmed that police responded to the scene, in Hyannis Port, one day earlier at about 3 p.m.

The Cape and Islands District Attorney’s Office did not specify the nature of the police call in their statement on Friday, beyond saying that Saoirse was found unresponsive at the scene and pronounced dead at a local hospital.

“An autopsy performed today has revealed no trauma inconsistent with lifesaving measures,” prosecutors said. “The cause and manner of death are pending the toxicology report.”

Both local and state police are currently investigating, according to the D.A.’s office.

Saoirse Kennedy
Saoirse Kennedy

Shortly after the tragedy, the famous political family confirmed the news of Saoirse’s death in a statement to PEOPLE.

“Our hearts are shattered by the loss of our beloved Saoirse. Her life was filled with hope, promise, and love,” the family said. “She cared deeply about friends and family, especially her mother Courtney, her father Paul, her stepmother Stephanie, and her grandmother Ethel.”

Ethel also said of her granddaughter’s unexpected passing, “The world is a little less beautiful today.”

“She lit up our lives with her love, her peals of laughter and her generous spirit,” Ethel said. “Saoirse was passionately moved by the causes of human rights and women’s empowerment and found great joy in volunteer work, working alongside indigenous communities to build schools in Mexico. We will love her and miss her forever.”

Saoirse Kennedy
Saoirse Kennedy Hill (top). Michaela Kennedy Cuomo/Instagram

Several other family members have also spoken out about Saoirse’s sudden death, including her uncle Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and her cousin Michaela Kennedy Cuomo, who is the daughter of Kerry Kennedy and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.

“Anyone who’s path crossed Saoirse’s would instantly feel her infectious charisma and fervor for finding joy in every moment,” Michaela, a 21-year-old Brown University student, wrote on Instagram. “Her beauty, inside and out, lit up every room that she entered.”

Saoirse Kennedy
Saoirse Kennedy and. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. RFK Jr./Instagram

“Saoirse’s fun-loving soul attracted everyone to get to know her, and immediately upon deeper conversation you would recognize that not only is Saoirse the cheerleader that the universe needs, but that she is deeply passionate, authentically caring, and intelligent and insightful beyond her, or anyone’s, years,” she continued.

Added RFK Jr., 65: “We’ve lost our daughter and our children, their sister. Saoirse was fierce, both in her love for her family and yearning for justice. A fearless adventurer, she inspired curiosity and daring in her friends.”

“The gaping hole that she leaves in our family is a wound too large to ever heal,” he said.

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text “home” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to

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• With reporting by JENNIFER LYNCH

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