Massive Search Underway for Missing Firefighters Who Disappeared on Boating Trip

The firefighters left Friday.
The Jacksonville Association of Fire Fighters

A massive search is underway for two firefighters who vanished during a Florida boating trip.

Brian McCluney, who works in Jacksonville, and Justin Walker, with the Virginia’s Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department, set sail from Port Canaveral on Friday on McCluney’s late dad’s boat. 

McCluney’s fishing bag was found 50 miles from St. Augustine Monday, but there was no sign of the boat they left in, authorities said. 

A hundred volunteers and 40 boats are out looking for the pair. On Tuesday, helicopters were added to the search, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

Thus far, the search has covered nearly 70,000 miles.

“We’re gonna find these guys. We’ve finally started zeroing a little bit today,” Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department Chief Keith Powers said in an update on Monday. “We’re gonna find them. Absolutely, it’s a rescue mission.”

McCluney’s wife, Stephanie McCluney, told WLTV that McCluney’s dad died a few weeks ago so they took his boat out as “one big final hoorah for his dad.”

But after they left she didn't hear from him again. Eventually, McCluney’s family reached out to the Coast Guard.

“I still could see that my messages hadn’t even been delivered yet,” Stephanie told the station. “I tried to get the kids to bed really quickly and made the calls to my … mother-in-law and brother-in-law that maybe we should start doing something.”

The next 24 hours are critical to finding the men, authorities said. 

“We’re talking about a decorated combat veteran, we’re talking about a firefighter, paramedic,” Powers said. “These guys have the skills to survive a long time. He was raised on the water his entire life. We’re going to continue this effort until we find Brian.”

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