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U.S Coast Guard, JFRD suspending active search for missing firemen at sundown

Posted at 12:58 PM, Aug 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-22 13:00:20-04

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (First Coast News) — The Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department and the U.S. Coast Guard announced that they will be suspending active search operations for the two missing firemen who left out of Port Canaveral on Friday and never returned.

"We had to make the extremely difficult decision to suspend the search at sundown," said U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Mark Vlaun. "But when suspend a search we never stop operating."

The Coast Guard said that the search was called off due to the lack of new information and the rate of the decreased likelihood of success.

"It's an extremely tough decision when you have a brother out there that you just can't find," said JFRD's Chief Keith Powers.

The search spanned over 105,000 square miles, twice the size of Florida, from Port Canaveral to New England.

"In my 25-year-career with the U.S. Coast Guard I have never seen a larger search operation," said Vlaun during the press conference.

The families of the two firemen were brought in on Thursday morning and sat down with search and rescue planners to discuss the details of the search. There the Coast Guard says that they answered questions and reassured them that just because they were stopping the active search, they were not going to stop looking.

Nonetheless, JFRD says that the wives and family members of Brian McCluney and Justin Walker are absolutely heartbroken.

JFRD fireman Brian McCluney and Justin Walker, a firefighter from Fairfax, Va., were last seen Friday putting their single-engine 24-foot Robalo boat in the Atlantic Ocean near Port Canaveral. Hundreds of searchers have been looking for the men since they've been missing. The search area has expanded into North Carolina and the New England area.