Coast Guard suspends search for missing firefighters

Jacksonville, Fla., firefighter Brian McCluney, left, and Fairfax County firefighter Justin Walker were reported missing last week after launching on a fishing trip in Port Canaveral, Fla. (Jacksonville Fire and Rescue)

The U.S. Coast Guard suspended a broad search for two firefighters, Justin Walker of Virginia and Brian McCluney of Florida, after they disappeared during a fishing trip off Florida.

Coast Guard Capt. Mark Vlaun said that at the end of the search’s seventh day the chances of finding the men alive had greatly diminished, because as time went on the search area had grown too large.

The search covered more than 105,000 square miles, and by the time it ended ocean currents could have carried the men’s boat anywhere from Florida to New England.

“At this point in time without additional information, we have simply reached a point where our computer modeling and our ability to search in a given location are no longer allowing us to search with any reasonable degree or probability of success,” Vlaun said.

The friends had launched their 24-foot boat from Port Canaveral, which is near the Kennedy Space Center on Florida’s central Atlantic Coast on the morning of Aug. 16. They had planned to go to a fishing spot called reef “8A” and return by 6 p.m., a trip that was meant to honor McCluney’s recently deceased father, family members said.

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