JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — "It's a rescue mission." That's how the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department is referring to Monday's search efforts after two firefighters from Jacksonville and Virginia did not return from a fishing trip off Port Canveral Friday.
JFRD remains optimistic, declaring their determination to bring missing firefighters Brian McCluney and Justin Walker home to their families.
They were last seen as they were getting ready to go fishing trip on Friday, off the coast of Port Canaveral.
JFRD says they searched 5,000 square miles of water on Monday. They're prepared to continue the search on Tuesday with your help.
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They're calling on anyone who'd like to help and has the following:
- A boat that can work in the range of 30-60 miles
- A SAT phone (which is short for a satellite telephone. It's a type of phone that connects to other phones by radio, orbiting through satellites.)
Action News Jax reporter Courtney Cole spoke to a man who drove up from Cocoa Beach to lend a hand.
"We just want to get these guys home to their family and friends—and get them home safe," said Doug Yanik.
Yanik, a local fisherman and bartender in Cocoa Beach, told Cole, McCluney and Walker left from their port on Friday.
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That's the last time the two were seen, as they were heading out for a fishing trip.
Yanik says they left Cocoa Beach around 3:00 a.m. Monday to drive up to Mayport Marina. Then they got out on the water around 7:30 a.m.
"We know that people would do this for us, so we just figured we try and come up here and help them out to," Yanik told Cole.
The local fisherman said he and his crew searched about 77 miles off shore.
"The best thing we had was…we were going and we saw off the bow of the boat, there was like flickers back and forth. It was like a light, so it was like two of them—so we were like ‘it's two guys...maybe they have a mirror or something and they're signaling us.' But when we ran up on it, it was just two more balloons with a mirror background on the waves," said Yanik.
Yanik and his crew above were one of the many that helped cover thousands of square miles.
Bill Perkins, a local charter captain, says there's one thing McCluney and Walker needed to have, that he believes would have made finding them…easier.
"Without an EPIRB it's difficult," Perkins told Cole.
EPIRB stands for Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon.
Once you deploy it, it automatically sends your GPS location to authorities if you end up in an emergency situation.
JFRD says the boat McCluney and Walker were on did not have it.
"In the case that a boat does go down, you attach it to yourself," said Perkins.
Perkins told Cole he never leaves without his and he hopes this is a reminder to all boater that safety and preparation should always come first.
JFRD says they searched from Brunswick to St. Augustine and from the coast—about 60+ miles off shore.
Monday, a fisherman found a fishing bag about 15 nautical miles off the coast of St. Augustine.
The bag belongs to McCluney and its recovery fills his wife with hope that he's still alive.
JFRD says 6 aircraft and 138 people (including volunteers, law enforcement, and fire fighters all participated in the search on Monday.
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