Second body found in search for missing family in Gulf of Mexico

More debris recovered overnight
Posted at 6:29 AM, Jun 22, 2016

The U.S. Coast Guard has located a second body Thursday in its search for a Sarasota family who never returned following a trip to Fort Myers aboard their 29-foot sailboat. One body had already been recovered, but authorities have not released the identity.

During a news conference Thursday in St. Petersburg, officials said they found a yellow kayak matching the description of a one known to be with the missing family.

At 1:15 a.m. Thursday an aircrew from Air Station Clearwater located a yellow kayak matching the description of a kayak also known to be with the family.

At 2:26 a.m., a Jayhawk crew and a 45-foot Response Boat-Medium boat crew witnessed a white flare while conducting the search.

“We remain hopeful we'll find survivors,” said Capt. Greg Case, commander of Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg. “We continue to keep close contact with the family and keep them updated on all developments during this difficult time."

A body found Wednesday has not been identified yet.

Earlier Wednesday, the Coast Guard tweeted that two kayaks that were being pulled by the sailboat were found as well. After the debris was spotted by air in the Gulf of Mexico, the Coast Guard contacted a nearby boater who collected several items and held them for a Coast Guard boat, Capt. Gregory Case said.

The tarp, water jugs, six life jackets and a propane tank were then identified by the brother of 45-year-old Ace Kimberly, who had been living on the sailboat with his children for a year.

Kimberly left Sarasota on Sunday, with 13-year-old Roger, 15-year-old Donny and 17-year-old Rebecca, for Fort Myers to have the boat repaired.

Kimberly's brother alerted the Coast Guard on Tuesday after they failed to arrive, Case said. The brother said their last word came Sunday, when Ace Kimberly told him they were sailing in "6-foot seas and thunderstorms."

The family was reportedly towing two kayaks behind the boat. Both kayaks have been located during the search.

Carly Black, the mother of Austin Stephanos who disappeared with Perry Cohen after they left the Jupiter Inlet to go fishing, released the following statement to friends and relatives of Ace Kimberly and his children.

My heart goes out to their loved ones; it's hard to know how it feels until you've been in a situation like this. I know that many people are praying for them. From my experience, I would assure the family that the Coast Guard is doing all they can to bring about the safe return of Mr. Kimberly and his children. Our prayers are with them.

The web team contributed to this report.