PORT CANAVERAL, Fla. — The massive multi-agency Atlantic Ocean search for two boaters out of Port Canaveral who went out on a fishing trip Friday and didn't return will continue at least into Wednesday evening, the Coast Guard said.
- Brian McCluney, Justin Walker have been missing since Friday
- McCluney's tackle bag was found by volunteer Monday
Crews from the Coast Guard, several law enforcement agencies, the U.S. Navy, Customs and Border Patrol and others have been searching day and night since Friday evening, when Jacksonville firefighter Brian McCluney and Fairfax, Virginia, firefighter Justin Walker were reported missing. The pair had left for a fishing trip that morning out of Port Canaveral.
The coordinated search had covered more than 90,000 square miles as of Wednesday afternoon. But "at this point, our search is becoming quite extended," Coast Guard Capt. Mark Vlaun said during a news conference that afternoon.
"We're at a race against time... that is becoming even more acute as we move forward," he said.
McCluney is a Navy veteran with survival training. His tackle bag was found about 50 miles off the coast of St. Augustine on Monday.
Vlaun said the search now extends from Port Canaveral to 120 to 200 miles off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.
"The drift and the Gulf Stream that we've been talking about now for a couple of days is working against us," he said.
"With each one of these successive search operations, we continue to evaluate as we move forward as to whether there's a likelihood for success in search operations, and for today, we're continuing along that avenue," Vlaun said.
The main challenges were a person's survivability on the water and the Gulf Stream continuing to grow the potential search area, which Vlaun said was extending not only forward but out.
"Knowing these men, knowing their survival ability, their training – veterans, firemen, first responders – they’d stick with that boat and they’d live off that boat and crawl into the boat, because there’s an air pocket there,” explained Joe Hurston with the Air Mobile Ministries. "Our hope is they are with that boat."
Walker’s wife, Natasha, joined one of the search planes that left from Titusville on Tuesday. She had planned to go back in the air Wednesday.