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Coast Guard to Suspend Search for Two Firefighters Missing at Sea Thursday

08-22-2019
Justin Walker and Brian McCluney. (Image credit: Jacksonville Association of Firefighters - IAFF Local 122/Facebook)
Justin Walker and Brian McCluney. (Image credit: Jacksonville Association of Firefighters - IAFF Local 122/Facebook)

The US Coast Guard has announced it will suspend its search at sundown Thursday for the two firefighters who have been missing at sea since Friday.

Coast Guard officials said search efforts will continue throughout the day with some crews even searching as far north as New England.

Rescue crews have been scouring more than 90,000 square miles in their search for Jacksonville, FL, Firefighter Brian McCluney and Fairfax, VA, Firefighter Justin Walker.  The pair were reported missing Friday night after they failed to return from a fishing trip.

The two men were last seen leaving the Christopher Columbus Boat Ramp in Port Canaveral in a 24-foot fishing boat, according to the Coast Guard. Authorities said the firefighters were believed to have gone around 30 miles offshore to a fishing spot known as 8A reef.

Based on the strength of the currents along the Atlantic seaboard, officials believe the boat could have drifted as far north as New England. 

A clue emerged Monday when a Good Samaritan found a tackle bag belonging to McCluney.

As CBN News reported, Garrett Shurling was in a church in Savannah, GA, and he felt God tell him to go to sea and help look. That's when he found the firefighter's fishing bag.

"I said, 'Hey God, if you want me to go, just give me a sign here while we are at church and we can pack up and leave,' and the sign came 10 seconds after I prayed that," Shurling said.

Shurling says God had His hand in finding McCluney's tackle bag 50 miles into the Atlantic off the coast of St. Augustine.

Throughout this ordeal, the faith of Stephanie McCluney, the Jacksonville firefighter's wife, has remained strong.  She said she's thankful to everyone who helped search for her husband and his friend.

"I just cannot express the gratitude from our community. From not just Jacksonville -- up and down the coast, and nationally -- it is amazing," McCluney told television station WJXT. "We feel so well supported, we still need so much more support to keep going."

She posted on Facebook on Wednesday that "I have renewed strength and hope in my Lord and Savior." She also noted she would not be updating social media, but would not lose faith or hope. 

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