Coast Guard suspends search for missing firefighters
Firefighters from Florida, Virginia disappeared during fishing trip
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – The U.S. Coast Guard suspended its search Thursday for two missing firefighters who disappeared after leaving a Florida port on a fishing trip last week.
Capt. Mark Vlaun said the search for Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department firefighter Brian McCluney and Justin Walker, of the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department in Virginia, would be suspended Thursday night.
Vlaun said they've reached a point where computer models analyzing the areas that already have been searched show there's no reasonable chance further searching will result in success.
Officials were unable to find the boaters, who were reported overdue Friday evening, after searching more than 146,368 square miles for over 281 hours, according to the Coast Guard.
"Our Coast Guard men and women worked tirelessly alongside federal, state and local partner agencies, as well as countless volunteers, searching for Brian and Justin," Vlaun said. "Despite those efforts, we have been unable to locate any signs of the vessel or the missing boaters."
The Coast Guard and scores of volunteers began looking for the firefighters last Saturday, a day after they were supposed to have returned to Cape Canaveral.
Officials said the Coast Guard will continue to have a presence in the area but active searches will conclude at sunset.
"Suspending a search is never an easy decision, and a lot of factors are considered and calculated before we make that decision," Vlaun said. "We have been in regular contact with the family members throughout our search and extend our heartfelt condolences for what we know is a very difficult time for them."
Interim Jacksonville Fire Chief Keith Powers said family members were heartbroken by the news.
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