Florida

‘Race against time.’ Coast Guard to suspend search for firefighters missing at sea

Search for missing boaters who went missing near Port Canaveral

Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department put a call out for help to help find the missing boaters and this was the initial turnout.
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Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department put a call out for help to help find the missing boaters and this was the initial turnout.

After six days, 105,000 square miles, and a “race against time,” the U.S. Coast Guard said they will be suspending their active search Thursday at sundown for the two missing firefighters lost at sea.

“We have simply reached a point where our computer modeling and our ability to search in a given location are no longer allowing us to search with any reasonable degree or probability of success,” said Capt. Mark Vlaun during a press conference Thursday afternoon.

Vlaun said the air and water search efforts will continue throughout the day, stretching as far north as New England.

Brian McCluney, a Navy veteran and Jacksonville firefighter, and Justin Walker, a Virginia firefighter, launched from the 300 Christopher Columbus boat ramp in Jacksonville near Port Canaveral Friday on a 24-foot center console boat, heading to “8A” reef.

They haven’t been seen since.

Led by the U.S. Coast Guard Southeast, the search has spanned over 105,000 square miles — from Port Canaveral to New England. Volunteers and multiple agencies, including the U.S. Navy and Air Force, came out to help bring the two men home.

Three Florida businesses were also offering a combined $30,000 reward for anyone who would find the two firefighters. Palm Beach Valley Outdoor Bar & Grill in Ponte Vedra Beach, International Marine in Boynton Beach and 1-800-BOARDUP in Jacksonville Beach were each offering $10,000, according to First Coast News.

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1-800-BOARDUP in Jacksonville Beach, was offering a $10,000 reward for anyone who would find the two firefighters. Screenshot of 1-800-BOARDUP Facebook Post

Stephanie Young McCluney, Brian McCluney’s wife, was hopeful her husband and his friend would be found after her husband’s tackle bag was found Monday about 50 miles off the coast of St. Augustine.

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On Thursday, McCluney’s Facebook presence was quiet. Right before 9 a.m. a few hours before the press conference, she shared a lyric music video West Race Baptist posted in May of “Symphony” by Switch.

“In the midst of the night God Provides these words of comfort as I was trying to rest,” McCluney’s caption read. She also posted the songs lyrics.

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On Thursday, Stephanie McCluney’s Facebook presence was quiet. Right before 9 a.m. a few hours before the press conference, she shared a lyric music video West Race Baptist posted in May of “Symphony” by Switch. Screenshot of Stephanie McCluney's Facebook post

Without any new information or leads, the Coast Guard has made the “extremely difficult decision” to suspend the search, Vlaun said. But, just because the search is no longer active, doesn’t mean the Coast Guard isn’t “operating,” he said.

The Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department also announced that they would be suspending their search.

‘”It’s an extremely tough decision when you have a brother out there that you just can’t find,” said Keith Powers, department chief, at the press conference.

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Real Time/Breaking News Reporter. There’s never a dull moment in Florida — and I cover it. Graduated with honors from Florida International University. Find me on Twitter @TweetMichelleM
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