Coast Guard suspends search for missing Florida firefighters on Thursday

Coast Guard suspends search for missing Florida firefighters on Thursday
Justin Walker and Brian McCluney. Source: CNN

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) – The Coast Guard announced Thursday it will stop active searches for two Florida firefighters who disappeared while on a fishing trip.

“The Coast Guard will continue to have a presence in the area, but active searches will conclude at sunset,” the Coast Guard posted on its Facebook page.

The search and rescue mission for Brian McCluney and Justin Walker expanded up the Grand Strand coastline. The two were last seen departing Friday from a boat ramp in Port Canaveral. Officials said the men traveled out to a reef near St. Augustine but never returned.

“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,” said Capt. Mark Vlaun, Commander, Coast Guard Sector Jacksonville. “Despite those efforts, we have been unable to locate any signs of the vessel or the missing boaters. Suspending a search is never an easy decision, and a lot of factors are considered and calculated before we make that decision. 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.”

The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources has been helping in the search for the firefighters along the Grand Strand coastline.

Robert McCullough with SCDNR said even though the Coast Guard will not be actively searching, SCDNR crews will continue to help in the search for the missing firefighters. He said the search on Thursday is ongoing and they’ve been doing air and boat searches for the two men.

SCDNR asks that all recreational boaters operating off the coast of South Carolina to remain especially vigilant and report any debris or other unusual sightings to either the USCG or to the SCDNR via the Department’s toll-free hotline at 1-800-922-5431.

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