Savannah Fire Rescue joins search for missing Florida, Virginia firefighters

Local News

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Savannah crews have joined in on the search for two firefighter friends who haven’t returned from a fishing trip off the coast of Florida.

Savannah Fire Rescue’s Marine 1 Unit sailed out Wednesday morning to aid in the search for Brian McCluney, a Navy veteran and member of the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department, and Justin Walker, a Fairfax, Virginia firefighter.

The two were last seen Friday setting out on their trip from Port Canaveral.

“We’re always hopeful that this could end in a positive light and it could end within the next 20 minutes, however, we right now are committed to the search and we will remain on station as long as we can,” said Savannah Fire Battalion Chief Joseph Bandy.

It’s been all hands on deck in the search. The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) has been out on the water and in the air, searching up and down the coast for McCluney and Walker along with other agencies and volunteers.

One volunteer from Savannah recently found a tackle bag belonging to McCluney, about 50 miles from Port Canaveral.

READ: ‘I believe they are alive’ Savannah man discovers only clue for missing boaters off Florida’s coast

But according to the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department, Thursday’s search will be shifting north to Savannah and Charleston. Crews will not go out of Jacksonville or Brunswick as they have in recent days.

Volunteers are welcome to join in the search but need a boat capable of working 60 miles offshore for an extended period of time. If interested, call 904-813-5315.

“We continue to be in a race against the clock as our search area has continued to expand rapidly,” said USCG Capt. Mark Vlaun Wednesday evening. “We have not found any additional debris that we can correlate to the vessel today that would narrow down the search.”

Vlaun addressed some radio chatter about items found off of Tybee Island and further up north in South Carolina. He said USCG Sector Charleston was performing a separate search and rescue off of Tybee, unrelated to this case — adding that a life vest found does not correlate.

“Its markings were very distinct, and that was not a correlatable event,” Vlaun concluded.

For those who are looking for a way to help, a fundraiser has been set up through Jacksonville Firefighter Charities. Visit that page here.

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