A missing Florida family on a sailboat venturing out on the Gulf of Mexico has disappeared. A father and his three teenage children left Sarasota at 7 a.m. on Sunday for Fort Myers to have repairs done on their boat.
NBC News reports authorities came across several belongings on Wednesday believed to be those of the missing Florida family. Sector Commander Captain Gregory Case with the Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg told reporters that there were four water bottles tied together, a pair of tennis shoes, a basketball, a water propane tank, and six life jackets.
“That is a dire finding,” he said. “We are doing everything we can and throwing everything we have at the search at this time.”
Ace Kimberly and his three kids — Rebecca, 17, Donny, 15, and Roger, 13 — were last heard from around 3 p.m. on Sunday when the father called his brother to tell him that the boat was in six feet of water and that they were trying to survive offshore in the midst of crashing waves and violent thunderstorms. Kimberly’s brother informed the Coast Guard on Tuesday that he was trying to get weather reports for the missing family.
— USCGSoutheast (@USCGSoutheast) June 22, 2016
Fox News reports that the items were found about 33 miles off the coast of southern Florida near the family’s last-known position.
Kimberly’s brother confirmed that the belongings were those of the missing father and three teenagers that came from the 29-foot boat, which vanished near Englewood on the Gulf of Mexico side of the state. The brother knew there were seven life jackets aboard the boat and told officials the four were also towing two kayaks behind. ABC News released an updated report stating that those kayaks were found.
Case added that a tarp was also discovered near Sanibel Island, about 33 miles offshore.
According to the report, Ace Kimberly and his children had been living in the boat, which was anchored in Sarasota, for about a year. They were on their way Fort Myers, where Kimberly’s brother lives, so he could help them work on repairs.
“The vessel was not in the best of shape,” Case said.
There wasn’t a distress call issued, Case said. He explained that “squalls, or typical thunderstorms” were underway when the sailboat disappeared.
— The Palm Beach Post (@pbpost) June 22, 2016
An HC-130 Hercules plane, a Coast Guard cutter, and two other boats were have taken part in the search.
This incident occurs almost one year after the Tequesta teens vanished off the coast of Jupiter after sailing off for a fishing trip in the Atlantic. Last July, Perry Cohen and Austin Stephanos, both 14, left on a 19-foot boat that was later found capsized by the Coast Guard a few days after they were reported missing.
Anyone with information on the whereabouts of the missing Florida family on the sailboat is urged to call the Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg at (727) 824-7506.
ABC 7 News reports that the vessel is described as a white 1976 SeaFarer. As mentioned, it’s 29 feet in length.
Although searchers have found belongings and debris originating from the sailboat, Case said that “there’s hope” that the missing Sarasota family will be found. They evidently were struggling at some point while at sea, going by what Ace Kimberly’s brother told authorities.
Rough water, treacherous weather, and unpredictable conditions are often a plight of boaters who venture out onto the open seas. This is an eerie reminder of what resulted from the missing teen boaters last summer. They were never found, and that case is ongoing.
[Image via Shutterstock]