LITTLE RIVER, SC (WBTW) – The search for two men who never returned from a fishing trip off the Florida Coast, that expanded into the Little River area has been suspended.
The Associated Press says firefighter Brian McCluney and Justin Walker departed last Friday on their outing, from Port Canaveral, Florida. Since then, search crews have been expanding to the north.
After searching an area of over 146,000 square miles, an area equivalent to the state of Montana, the U.S. Coast Guard says they have suspended the search.
“Our Coast Guard men and women worked tirelessly alongside federal, state, and local partner agencies, as well as countless volunteers, searching for Brian and Justin,” said Capt. Mark Vlaun, Commander, Coast Guard Sector Jacksonville. “Despite those efforts, we have been unable to locate any signs of the vessel or the missing boaters. Suspending a search is never an easy decision, and a lot of factors are considered and calculated before we make that decision. We have been in regular contact with the family members throughout our search and extend our heartfelt condolences for what we know is a very difficult time for them.”
McCluney works for the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department and Walker works as a master technician with the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department in Virginia.
According to the Associated Press, McCluney’s wife said Tuesday the discovery of her husband’s tackle bag has given her hope that the men will be found. In a Facebook post, Stephanie McCluney added that she believed the bag was thrown overboard by the men to help those who are searching for them.
The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources posted on social media Wednesday afternoon that boats and planes will be moving up to the Little River area on Thursday, in hopes of finding the men.
The U.S. Coast Guard Southeast division has been providing updates on the search via social media:
Count on News13 for updates as they become available.