Search for missing boaters stretches to Charleston; looking for volunteers

Local News

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – A massive search for two firefighters who went missing at sea in Florida has stretched to Charleston.

The United States Coast Guard says Brian McCluney and Justin Walker were reported to be leaving the Christopher Columbus boat ramp headed toward 8-A reef. Relatives of the family alerted the Coast Guard when the men didn’t return home as expected Friday night.

As of Wednesday night, more than 90,000 square miles with an estimated 249 hours of active searches has occurred since Friday.

“Time has become our enemy,” Jacksonville Fire Rescue Chief Keith Powers said. “Somethings got to happen.”

The search started in in Cape Canaveral and has now stretched to the waters between Savannah and Charleston, and as far north as Cape Hatters, North Carolina. The search goes as far as 120 miles offshore.

Lieutenant Jr. Phillip Vanderweit with the USCG Charleston sector said their 87 ft. cutter cormorant control boat is currently at sea searching for the missing boaters.

“We’re searching as hard as we can to locate the two missing boaters,” Vanderweit said. “Whenever these types of things happen we are always ready to answer the call, whether it’s an incident in the Charleston harbor, in a river, in an inter coastal waterway or even 50-200 miles off shore.”

Vanderweit said their current focus is on finding the missing boaters and bringing them home safely.

“We stand ready to answer the call any day of the week, 365 days a year,” he said. “This is just one example and a testament to the strong partnerships we have and really we are all just working together for the same result and that’s to locate to missing boaters safely.”

More than 150 volunteers have joined in the search. Anyone in the Savannah or Charleston area with a boat capable of working up to 60 miles offshore is asked to contact JFRD Chief Trace Barrow at 904-813-5315 about helping on Thursday. Donations to help fuel boats used in the search can be made at

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