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Fla. Fire Dept. Joins Search for Medic, Firefighter Missing at Sea

The Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville

About 50 Jacksonville firefighters with 11 boats have joined the U.S. Coast Guard-led search for their colleague Brian McCluney, an engineer/paramedic, and Justin Walker, a Virginia firefighter, missing at sea from a fishing trip Friday.

McCluney and Walker failed to return after leaving the 300 Christopher Columbus boat ramp in Cape Canaveral in a 24-foot center console boat en route toward 8A reef Friday morning, according to the U.S. Coast Guard, which is leading the multi-agency search by air and sea.

The men were headed toward 8A reef when they left shore, the Coast Guard said.

Family members notified the Coast Guard in Port Canaveral the men were overdue when they didn't return as expected and couldn't be reached by cell phone.

Sunday morning, the Coast Guard along with state and local law enforcement agencies were focusing on an area near the Gulf Stream. Good Samaritans including the Jacksonville firefighters were searching up to 15 miles off the coast from South Georgia to Port Canaveral, the Coast Guard said.

About 4,800 miles of ocean had been searched as of Sunday. In addition to the Coast Guard, agencies assisting included the U.S. Navy, Brevard County Sheriff's Office and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

McCluney is an engineer/paramedic with the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department assigned to Station 31 on the city's Westside. Walker is a master technician with the Fairfax County Va. Fire and Rescue Department, according to officials with those agencies.

Several of McCluney's fellow firefighters at Station 31 are among the Jacksonville volunteers helping in the search. Department officials and personnel also are aiding McCluney's family, who have gathered at Port Canaveral during the search.

"Want to know about our bond with each other? These are the times that we come together to accomplish amazing things," Jacksonville Fire and Rescue posted on Twitter along with a photo of its personnel launching a boat to the join the search.

McCluney's wife, Stephanie, in public Facebook posts thanked searchers, as well as the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department.

"I cannot say enough wonderful things about the support and love offered and organized from JFRD from the first moment all the way through. Thank you," she said Sunday morning.

She also voiced confidence that her husband and Walker will be found safe.

"Today is the day. All of the prayers, texts, messages, comments are so very encouraging and helped through the long night. Thank you," she posted.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Coast Guard Sector Jacksonville Command Center at (904) 714-7558.

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