Coast Guard searching for Virginia firefighter who disappeared on a Florida fishing trip

Posted at 6:56 AM, Aug 19, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-19 07:58:57-04

Authorities say they have searched almost 5,000 square miles of ocean for two firefighters who disappeared after setting out from Port Canaveral, Florida, on a fishing trip.

One of the two firefighters is Justin Walker, who is a member of Fairfax County, Virginia, Fire and Rescue.

Walker and Brian McCluney – who is with Jacksonville Fire and Rescue – were last seen Friday morning on surveillance video launching their boat into the water at the 300 Christopher Columbus boat ramp, according to the Coast Guard. Their destination was 8A Reef, an offshore fishing spot, the Coast Guard said.

Family members contacted the Coast Guard after the men didn’t return Friday evening. Both men have beenidentified as firefighters.

The Twitter page for Fairfax County Fire and Rescue has been active, with tweets shared and posted in hopes that someone may know something about the two men that went missing.

The Coast Guard, along with multiple local and county agencies, started searching by boat and air on Friday night.

“I hoped that by daylight it would bring us something,” McCluney’s wife, Stephanie, told CNN affiliate WFTV on Saturday. “I understand it is like a needle in a haystack. But these two men are probably the most resourceful men.”

The mens’ boat belonged to McCluney’s late father, who passed away last month, according to McCluney’s brother Kevin. McCluney’s wife told CNN affiliate WKMG that the boat has had mechanical problems in the past.

By Sunday,the Coast Guard said its boats and an airplane had searchedan estimated 4,800 square miles — as far north as the Georgia coast — trying to locate the fishermen. More than a dozen good Samaritans with boats also have joined officials in the search effort.

“Want to know about our bond with each other? These are the times that we come together to accomplish amazing things…we have about 11 boats with nearly 50 firefighters assisting @USCGSoutheast with search out of Vilano and Daytona beach this am,” tweeted the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department.

As the search continues, the Coast Guard is asking for anyone with information to call 904-714-7558.