Crews are optimistic and there’s still plenty of hope, but it’s a race against time
Search efforts remain in full force as multiple agencies and volunteers do everything within their power to bring home the two missing firefighters.
Total search coverage has spanned 69,000 square miles with 182 hours of searches.
“We’re now in the fifth day of what has become an extraordinarily large and complex search and rescue operation,” Capt. Mark Vlaun of the U.S. Coast Guard said late on Tuesday. “We’re holding out guarded optimism. We are absolutely in a race against time.”
“The next 24 hours are absolutely critical, and I can’t put it any clearer than that. We are absolutely in a race against time at this point,” Vlaun continued. “We are going to continue to throw everything we have at this until we reach a point where we know we can’t be successful.”
“The biggest challenge we have is the current. It really expands our search zone. Without additional clues, the area search becomes really vast.”
Stephanie McCluney continues to do everything she can to find and bring her husband, Brian McCluney, and his friend, Justin Walker, back home.
She shared information that was posted by the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department on Twitter, calling on anyone in the designated areas to go out and help.
JFRD Chief Keith Powers asks anyone that wants to help on Wednesday in the Brunswick and Savannah areas with boats capable of operating 60 miles offshore to call 904-813-5315 to coordinate. Other volunteers should call 904-763-9747 because crews will be going out on Wednesday morning again from the Mayport boat ramp.
“We’ve got to get one eye to see. All it takes is one eye, but it takes a multitude out there. That is a big space. It is a bigger God. He’s going to bring him home,” Stephanie McCluney said on Tuesday.
Mrs. McCluney took the time to express her gratitude for everyone’s efforts before she entered a private vigil on Tuesday night at the fire union hall off Stockton Street in Jacksonville.
“We cannot express the gratitude from the bottom of our hearts that these operations, that these agencies have given,” she said. “From the fire departments up and down the coast, JFRD has been so supportive. Now, Fairfax is stepping in and the Coast Guard operation is so amazingly well run,” she said. “It brings me such renewed strength to go down there and see the operation itself, to see what exactly they’re doing. And the manpower behind it — it’s not manpower, it’s God power. He’s doing amazing things.”
“We still need so much more support to keep going, to keep those boats in the water, to keep those airplanes in the air, so please continue to support us,” she said. “Once again, thank you. There is so much gratitude here and so much heartfelt. I can’t say enough words. ‘Praise be to God, and the things he is doing right now amongst all of these people.'”
Jason Walker’s wife, Natasha Walker, didn’t want to wait around while her husband and friend were lost, so she joined in on the rescue efforts.
A volunteer took her up on their Cessna plane so they could look for her husband.
“I need to be up there feeling like I’m searching too,” Walker said early Tuesday. “We’ve been following everybody’s plan. I’ve been getting frustrated with the results… Going to bed at night, feeling guilty going to sleep or eating because I know our husbands are out there not doing that.”
Three days missing, crews believe it’s still a rescue mission
The search for missing firefighters Brian McCluney and Justin Walker continues.
Rescuers remain hopeful that they will find the firefighters since both men are highly capable in an emergency situation.
The U.S. Coast Guard Southeast continues to expand its search as necessary, providing updates along the way.
The search has covered 46,800 square miles with 108 hours of active searches so far. They will continue to search throughout the night.
Although the men remain missing, signs of them were discovered when Brian McCluney’s tackle bag was found 50 miles out, off the coast of St. Augustine.
Stephanie McCluney fully believes it’s a “breadcrumb” that Brian left so they could be found.
“I am standing firm on my face in prayer and that this be our Lord and savior guiding our path. Please continue to send prayers,” she said in her post.
“We will find them … we will have a nice reunion. I am confident,” Mrs. McCluney told First Coast News.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection have also provided their assistance in the search as CBP crews were sent out.
“This is still absolutely a rescue mission,” JFRD Chief Keith Powers said in a news conference on Monday. “We’re talking about a decorated combat veteran, we’re talking about a firefighter, paramedic. 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.”
We’ll continue to update everyone as new information becomes available.
Please consider donating to aid the search at www.jfrd.com so we can bring these two heroes home as soon as possible.
The Jacksonville and Virginia firefighters were on their last fishing trip before selling the boat
It’s been over 48 hours since the missing Port Canaveral boaters were due back from their fishing trip.
Rescue efforts are still in full swing as the Coast Guard and multiple other agencies and volunteers do everything they can to locate Brian McCluney and Justin Walker.
U.S. Coast Guard Southeast has continued to post updates to their Facebook page as new information develops.
They thought they had caught a big break in the search when sightings of a similar vessel and debris were reported. They both turned out to be unrelated to missing firefighters.
More than 20,000 square miles have been covered in the search so far.
“If they’re in the gulf stream, their drift becomes faster and so that extends out the amount of locations to where they could be,” said Captain Jim Suber.
Even though they’ve been missing for over 2 days, there’s still a good chance the men are fine.
“Well you can drift, it depends on what your provisions are,” Suber continued. “If you brought plenty of water you’re gonna get hungry and (hopefully) you brought enough snacks. But you know a good, healthy man can last a pretty good while in a boat just floating as long as they’re out of the water and not in the water, where in the water where hypothermia and sun and all the factors start coming into play.”
“We’re saturating the area,” Petty Officer 1st Class Luke Clayton said early Sunday. “They’re considered overdue. We’ve had no radio communication or GPS pings. We’re trying to find them so we can bring them back home.”
Stephanie McCluney is still very hopeful her husband and his friend will be found safe.
“I have an army that is just holding me and bathing me in prayer,” she said at Jetty Park. “We’re holding prayer vigils, we’re up all night.”
The community has shown support in a big way as numerous people have come to help through searching and offering support.
“The Coast Guard will continue efforts by boat/radar throughout the night,” she wrote on Facebook.
“I’m desperately calling on all my prayer warriors. I am confident we serve a big God who holds these men in His hand and will guide them to us. As we approach the night I covet your prayers for peace and comfort.”
The U.S. Coast Guard and multiple law enforcement agencies are searching for two men who didn’t return home from a Port Canaveral fishing trip.
Brian McCluney, a firefighter and paramedic with the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department, and Justin Walker, a firefighter with the Fairfax County Fire Department in Virginia, launched their 24-foot center console boat from the Christopher Columbus boat ramp on Friday morning and haven’t been seen since.
The two men were taking one last fishing trip before selling McCluney’s fathers boat, who died a few weeks ago.
“The boat was my father’s, who passed away last month, so the plan was to sell the boat,” McCluney’s brother, Kevin said. “But he wanted to run it one last time to get some fishing done as a sendoff for my dad.”
“You know when something bad like this happens, everybody talks about how good that person is — and he is,” District Chief Patrick Gouin said. “He would help anybody out, he would do anything for anybody. Very good at his job, very conscientious.”
Searching for everyday heroes and waiting to be rescued
McCluney’s brother notified the Coast Guard when no one had heard from the two men by sundown.
“They’re usually in by dark,” said McCluney’s wife, Stephanie McCluney. “Six o’clock is (the) time they’re usually in port. We give extra time. If fishing is good, they stay out longer. We didn’t hear from them, couldn’t get ahold of them by cellphones.”
“I really am confident it’s mechanical failure. They’re out there drifting. That’s my belief now,” Stephanie McCluney continued. “Coast Guard said they haven’t seen any debris fields. (They’re) just waiting for someone to come find them.”
Rescue crews have searched roughly 4,400 square miles as of post time.
“They’ll continue to search until dusk, then reassess. We have so many family and friends out in boats. We’re active in the fishing community,” Stephanie said.
The 7th District U.S. Coast Guard tweeted that the search will continue throughout the night in a tweet posted around 8 p.m.
Anyone with information concerning the missing firefighters should contact the Coast Guard Sector Jacksonville Command Center at 904-714-7558.