Florida

Two Florida firefighters went out on a fishing trip. Now, a massive search is on to find them

The Coast Guard is searching for two firefighters who did not return from a fishing trip Friday evening. They were last seen departing the 300 Christopher Columbus boat ramp in Cape Canaveral.
The Coast Guard is searching for two firefighters who did not return from a fishing trip Friday evening. They were last seen departing the 300 Christopher Columbus boat ramp in Cape Canaveral. United States Coast Guard

The search for two Jacksonville firefighters is in its third day — and the military, Florida police and dozens of civilians have joined the effort to find them.

Since Saturday, the Coast Guard has covered about 24,000 miles of ocean in search of the two men as of Monday morning. According to social media posts, the search area extends as far north as Charleston, South Carolina, and 80 miles off shore.

On top of the Coast Guard’s efforts, the Jacksonville Fire Department reported 36 boats packed with more than 130 volunteers set out to search the area between St. Augustine, Florida, to Brunswick, Georgia. The Jacksonville Association of Firefighters has also set up a website to help fund search efforts.

Brian McCluney and Justin Walker were last seen departing the 300 Christopher Columbus boat ramp in Cape Canaveral Friday morning, according to the Coast Guard. They were supposed to return from their fishing trip to honor McCluney’s recently deceased father WJAX First Coast News reported.

Coast Guard officials were first notified of the missing boaters Friday evening. Stephanie McCluney, Brian’s wife, told First Coast News that she first sensed something was wrong when her text messages to her husband stopped delivering.

According to the Coast Guard, the agency’s Sector Jacksonville Command Center launched a 45-foot response boat, a HC-139 Hercules search plane and an 87-foot patrol boat Saturday morning in response. The Navy, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and the Brevard and Jacksonville sheriff’s offices joined the search.

No flotation devices or debris relating to the two boaters have been found, the Coast Guard says.

C. Isaiah Smalls II is a reporter covering breaking and trending news for the Miami Herald. Previously, he worked for ESPN’s The Undefeated as part of their inaugural class of Rhoden Fellows. He is a graduate of both Columbia University and Morehouse College.
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