UPDATED 11:05 AM PT — Monday, August 19, 2019
The Coast Guard is searching for two firefighters who have been missing since departing on a fishing trip in Florida on Friday. Brian McCluney and Justin Walker were last seen on a boat ramp at Port Canaveral, and were reportedly going fishing at spot 8A Reef.
McCluney’s brother, Steve, called the Coast Guard at sunset when the two hadn’t returned, and said the trip was supposed to be a sendoff to their late father’s boat.
“Our dad passed away last month, so he left the boat behind and we were trying to work out the kinks of the boat to sell it,” Steve explained.
The Coast Guard responded immediately with crews searching more than 20,000 miles over the weekend from Port Canaveral to Charleston, South Carolina.
According to McCluney’s wife, Stephanie, the boat has had issues before, and she thinks a mechanical issue may have caused the boat to capsize.
“We know these things happen, it’s not the first time the Coast Guard’s been called or Sea Tow has been called,” she stated. “They’ve been out there before to tow us back in.”
Dozens of volunteers from good Samaritans to fellow firefighters have joined in on the search, with some even conducting prayer walks on the beach.
Family is praying on beach where missing boaters/ firefighters Brian McCluney and Justin Walker were last seen 48 hours ago. pic.twitter.com/fmEihc7ovA
— Troy Campbell (@TroyLeeCampbell) August 18, 2019
Stephanie McCluney said the pair’s firefighting survival skills, along with her husband’s Navy veteran and paramedic backgrounds, make her hopeful they will return safe.
“I’m highly, highly confident that he will survive and do what is necessary,” she said. “And I know Justin is the exact same way, they’re the two most resourceful men I’ve ever met.”
The Coast Guard says it will continue its search along with the help of partner agencies, adding, they will be deploying both sea and air teams to scout for the men.
UPDATE: JFRD says volunteer search efforts include 36 boats and three aircraft.
— Brittney Donovan (@brittneyANjax) August 19, 2019