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Search for missing firefighters, one with ties to Palm Beach County, to continue into Thursday morning

Coast Guard calls search for missing firefighters a "struggle"
Posted at 12:26 PM, Aug 21, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-22 00:04:14-04

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — UPDATE: Officials said on a press conference Wednesday evening that the search for Brian McCluney and Justin Walker will continue through the night and into Thursday morning.

So far, 100 boats were part of the search Wednesday and have covered 5 thousand miles.

The Coast Guard has multiple helicopters searching by area. The search is moving north to the South Carolina area.

Thursday morning, officials will have a conversation on whether it will remain a search or move into a recovery mission.

The image bellow shows Wednesday's search.

EARLIER STORY:

The U.S. Coast Guard admits it will have to evaluate how much longer the search for two missing firefighters off Florida's coast can continue, depending on what is found on Wednesday.

Brian McCluney and Justin Walker, who attended Palm Beach Atlantic University, were last seen leaving a Port Canaveral boat ramp on Friday morning in a 24-foot vessel. They never returned.

Coast Guard officials said 150 searchers and 40 boats are involved in the effort Wednesday, but no signs of the men or their boat were found on Tuesday or overnight.

"It's a struggle for all of us," said Capt. Mark Vlaun at a Wednesday afternoon news conference.

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Capt. Vlaun said the search will continue into Wednesday evening, but time is running out.

"We're still engaged today, and based on what we learn throughout the evening, we'll start to have discussions about whether we can actively search or if we need to accept another posture," said Capt. Vlaun. "What it comes down to is the likelihood of success."

The Coast Guard said the Gulf Stream is working against the search efforts, as it's pushing potential evidence farther away and expanding the search field.

"The area is literally becoming so large, and that's why each individual clue becomes so important," said Capt. Vlaun, who added the last piece of evidence found is two days old, McCluney's fishing tackle bag.

McCluney is a decorated combat veteran and a firefighter with Jacksonville Fire and Rescue.

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.