Coast Guard searching for missing firefighters on Florida fishing trip

Abbie Bennett
August 19, 2019 - 12:17 pm
MissingBoaters

U.S. Coast Guard

The U.S. Coast Guard and other agencies are searching for two overdue boaters after they did not return from a fishing trip near Port Canaveral, Fla. 

As of Monday morning, crews had already searched 24,00 miles, including Port Canaveral, Jacksonville and about 80 miles offshore. 

The boaters, Brian McCluney and Justin Walker, were last seen leaving the 300 Christopher Columbus boat ramp Friday in a 24-foot, center console heading toward the 8A reef, the Coast Guard said in a news release about the search.

McCluney and Walker were identified as firefighters by the Jacksonville Association of Firefighters -- McCluney with Jacksonville Fire and Rescue and Walker with Fairfax County, Va. Fire and Rescue. 

Sunday, the Coast Guard followed a tip from a civilian aircraft of a similar vessel. When the Coast Guard responded, it found a cooler and life jackets, but no boat and no sign of McCluney or Walker, the Coast Guard tweeted.

Family of the boaters notified Coast Guard Station Port Canaveral watchstanders that McCluney and Walker had not returned as expected Friday evening. 

Coast Guard Sector Jacksonville command center watchstanders then launched a 45-foot response boat from Station Canaveral, an HC-130 Hercules search plane from Air Station Clearwater and Coast Guard Cutter Ridley, an 87-foot patrol boat, to begin the search.

The Navy and the Brevard County Sheriff's Office also were conducting searches. 

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Coast Guard's Jacksonville Command Center at 904-714-7558.

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Reach Abbie Bennett: abbie@connectingvets.com or @AbbieRBennett.

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