Authorities Plead For Volunteers Amid Continued Search For Missing Firefighters
The U.S. Coast Guard is urging the public for volunteers as the search for two firefighters off the coast of Florida continues.
Justin Walker, 33, and Brian McCluney, 38, were last seen on Friday as they departed on board their 24-foot center console boat from the boat ramp in Port Canaveral, Florida.
On the evening of August 16th, Walker and McCluney were reported missing by a concerned relative when they failed to return from what was supposed to be a “short fishing trip.”
The Coast Guard initiated a search off the coast of Florida that same night and covered an estimated 4,400 square mile in 24 hours. Florida Today reports other agencies have now joined the search as well including the Navy, Customs and Border Protection, the FBI and Brevard County Sheriff's Office.
The Coast Guard has since urged the public for volunteers to join the search. On Tuesday, dozens of volunteers helped authorities cover around 69,000 square miles. On Wednesday, 100 volunteers joined and helped both on the coast by searching for clues and on boats at sea.
The search has now expanded to North Carolina, dozens of miles away from where they were last seen. Officials said they urgently need volunteers with boats that are able to sail 60 miles off shore in Georgia and South Carolina.
BREAKING: @USCGSoutheast confirms good Samaritan searching found a tackle bag in the search area. Brian McCluney’s family confirms it has his belongings inside. Working to see what this means for search moving forward, before I go live on @WFTV at 4. pic.twitter.com/1wvqRILIvn— Deanna Allbrittin (@deannaTVnews) August 19, 2019
Despite the huge efforts, there has still been no sign of the two firefighters. Since the search began last Friday, only a tackle bag with Brian McCluney’s belongings has been found. His family, however, remains hopeful.
Speaking to WFTV, Kevin McCluney, Brian’s brother, said the two men are very resourceful and are thus able to survive in the most difficult of circumstances.
"Between the two of them, I know they've got it locked down," he said. "It's just a matter of time."
Officials also believe they will find the two men alive and well.
"This is still absolutely a rescue mission," said Jacksonville fire Chief Keith Powers, according to WFTV. "We're talking about a decorated combat vet here. We're talking about a firefighter paramedic. These guys have the skills ... to survive for a long time."
Learn more about the story in the video below:
If you or anyone you know has any information or is able to volunteer, you can contact the Coast Guard Sector Jacksonville Command Center on the number 904-714-7558. Don't forget to spread this story by showing it to your friends and family.