Search Enters Third Day For Missing Jacksonville And Virginia Firefighters On Boat Off Florida
The search for missing Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department engineer/paramedic Brian McCluney and Fairfax County, Va., firefighter Justin Walker kicked off again early Monday on Florida's east coast with the Coast Guard aided by dozens of private and commercial boaters launching from boat ramps from Mayport to Port Canaveral.
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As the Jacksonville fire department's mobile command center helps coordinate searches from the Mayport boat ramp, the Coast Guard confirms its search crews have done more than 24,000 miles of hunting for the two firefighters since they were reported missing off Port Canaveral Friday night.
That search area, surveyed by land and sea, now extends to north of Jacksonville and about 80 miles offshore, the Coast Guard said. As its firefighters help search for their missing members, the fire department tweeted its own words Monday morning to anyone from boaters to beachcombers.
"Message to all about the search....if you see something tell someone, any debris, anything, notify the Coast Guard," it said.
Meanwhile, the Coast Guard sends out its own message via radio to all boaters, repeated every 15 minutes, about the men and their 24-foot-long Robolo center console boat with black top.
"Vessel departed Canaveral at 11:30 local with intention to fish offshore at 8Alpha Reef or in the Gulf Stream," the message says is part. "... All vessels are asked to keep a sharp lookout."
McCluney and Walker failed to return after leaving the 300 Christopher Columbus boat ramp in Cape Canaveral, last seen heading out to sea in McCluney's late father's boat Friday morning, according to the Coast Guard. Their red pickup truck and trailer were seen on security camera lowering the boat into the water at the ramp. That truck and trailer remain at the ramp with votive candles placed on it as the search continues.
Randy Wyse, president of the Jacksonville Association of Firefighters, said Sunday afternoon that searchers did get a "ping" off one of the firefighter's cellphones about 1 a.m. Saturday, a "positive that they were still out there." And a report of debris spotted about 50 miles east of St. Augustine was not related to the missing firefighters, the Coast Guard said.
On Facebook, Stephanie McCluney said she was confident her husband and Walker would be found safe, thanking searchers, including her husband's co-workers, for what they are doing.
"We want every square inch covered from GA to Cocoa Beach..." she posted. "We want all our beaches to be walked. Covered in prayer and eyes out for anything the guys would have tossed over to signal, beanbag seat, hats, extra life vests, anything that would float and wash in. Come join me please!"
McCluney is assigned to Station 31 on the city's Westside, while Walker is a master technician with the Fairfax County, Va., Fire and Rescue Department.
Several of McCluney's fellow Station 31 firefighters are among the Jacksonville searchers, joined Monday morning at the Mayport boat ramp by civilians as well as first responders from other parts of Northeast Florida. Jacksonville FireFighter Charities has set up a site to accept donations to support the search efforts and "ultimately the families of the firefighters.
"Thank you so much for your support and prayers!" it said.
That fundraiser is at clear-give.com/egive3/index.cfm?page=donationDetail&itemID=305533&LocID=261001&refresh=true.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Coast Guard Sector Jacksonville Command Center at (904) 714-7558.
Dan Scanlan: (904) 359-4549
This article is written by Dan Scanlan from The Florida Times-Union and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.