Search continues for missing firefighters off Florida coast, one with ties to South Florida

Brian McCluney and Justin Walker
Posted at 11:42 AM, Aug 19, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-20 12:13:06-04

The U.S. Coast Guard and Jacksonville Fire and Rescue continue to search an area between Georgia and Florida for two firefighters who went missing while boating last week. One of those men attended college in Palm Beach County.

On Monday, JFR Chief Keith Powers said 135 people, 36 boats, and three aircraft are involved in the search for Brian McCluney and Justin Walker.

The search crews, which include private citizens, are searching a 100-mile stretch between Brunswick, Georgia and St. Augustine, and are looking for the boaters up to 60 miles out in the Atlantic Ocean.

"This is still absolutely a rescue mission," said Chief Powers, who added McCluney is a decorated combat veteran and a firefighter with Jacksonville Fire and Rescue. "These guys have the skills to survive for a long time."

Walker is a master technician for the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department in Virginia. He attended Palm Beach Atlantic University where he majored in Dance, along with McCluney's wife, Stephanie.

The Coast Guard said McCluney and Walker were heading toward a fishing spot known as 8A reef, and were supposed to have returned Friday.

Chief Powers said crews will continue searching until at least late Monday afternoon, and his agency is determined to find the firefighters.

On Monday, crews found McCluney's fishing tackle bag some 50 miles off St. Augustine.

"We're gonna continue our efforts until we find Brian," said Chief Powers.


WPTV and the Associated Press contributed to this report.