Coast Guard searching for missing firefighters off Florida coast
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The U.S. Coast Guard, along with partner agencies, is searching for two firefighters who are missing after they were due to return from boating on Friday evening.
Officials say Brian McCluney and Justin Walker were last seen leaving a Port Canaveral boat ramp on Friday morning in a 24-foot center console.
According to the Coast Guard, the two men were heading toward 8A Reef, a popular fishing spot.
The search is being concentrated on the Gulf Stream area by the Coast Guard, while good Samaritans have been concentrating 1-15 miles offshore.
On Sunday afternoon, around 4:45 p.m., the Coast Guard said a civilian aircraft spotted a vessel matching the description of the men’s boat. A search plane went to the location and found a cooler and life jackets, officials say.
Authorities responded to the location, roughly 50 miles east of Jacksonville, to continue the search. There, the Coast Guard says no boats were found and the floating items turned out to be debris not related to the missing boaters.
Search crews are expanding their search patterns in that area, officials say.
The search began when a family member notified authorities when the men didn’t return when expected on Friday evening.
The Coast Guard is using several boats and planes to search for the men, along with other agencies and good Samaritans who are using their own assets to help in the search.
According to the International Association of Fire Fighters, both of the men are members of the association. Walker is a master technician with Fairfax County Fire and Rescue in Virginia, and McCluney is from the Jacksonville Association of Fire Fighters.
Anyone who wishes to coordinate with the Coast Guard or has information is asked to contact the Sector Jacksonville Command Center at 904-714-7558.