The body of Rebecca Kimberly, 17, has been found off the coast of Florida. Rebecca, her two teen brothers, and father vanished while sailing on the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday. The family reportedly ran into a storm with 6-foot seas off the coast of Englewood. The Venice, Florida, area town is about 30 miles south of Sarasota.
The Kimberly family was last seen sailing out of Sarasota towards Fort Myers. Ace, 45, and his children, Rebecca, Roger, 13, and Donny, 15, had lived on their boat for the past year. Ace Kimberly was planning on having repairs done on his 29-foot boat after arriving in Fort Myers, the Daily Mail reports.
There have been reports that the white boat owned by the Kimberly family had no name and no radio, according to CBS News.
Yesterday afternoon, the U.S. Coast Guard found a “debris field” about 33 miles off the coast of Sanibel Island. Empty kayaks were found floating next to Rebecca Kimberly’s body. Ace Kimberly had reportedly planned to use the kayaks as a lifeboat if the family ever got into trouble on the water.
The 17-year-old girl was still wearing her life jacket when the body was discovered. Another six life vests and a tarp were found when the area around the debris field was searched. The Coast Guard also found a propane tank and a basketball floating in the water near the empty kayaks.
Derek Sledjeski, who runs Bayfront Excursions, where a small amount of boaters live, described the Kimberly family as close, adding they primarily kept to themselves.
“They all came together as a family. That’s usually how you’d see them — as a family,” Sledjeski added.
According to an aunt who spoke to local reporters, Ace Kimberly and his children frequently went to church and were “into music” and sang and played guitar together.
A U.S. Coast Guard search helicopter from the St. Petersburg sector command recovered the body of Rebecca Kimberly.
“We still have three persons out there that we are trying desperately to locate and we still have hope for that,” Captain Gregory Case said after the body was found. He declined to release any specific details about the state of the recovered body. “They were taking a trip down there to work on the vessel. The vessel was not, not in the best of shape.”
The U.S. Coast Guard has still not been able to spot any signs of the Kimberly family boat or other members of the missing Sarasota family.
“I want my children,” Pauline Solsberry, the mother of Rebecca, Roger, and Danny, said during the search and rescue effort, according to WTSP.
Solsberry said she and her children have been estranged since she and Ace Kimberly divorced about nine years ago. She said she keeps in touch via a niece and through photos. She said she found out about the children moving to Florida about one to two years ago.
“They seemed to be happy,” Pauline Solsberry added. “Even though I don’t like the man, I hoped he would be taking care of his children and keep them safe no matter what happened.”
Solsberry left for Florida after learning the children had gone missing at sea.
“[I want to tell them] that I love them, hope they’re safe, to be safe. I don’t care if they ever want to see me just be safe.”
Ace Kimberly reportedly called his brother around 3 p.m. on Sunday. He reportedly told the brother that the family was hitting tall waves and he was “attempting to survive with his children” near Englewood. The brother called the Coast Guard to report the family missing on Tuesday. The U.S. Coast Guard has not released any information about why the brother waited two days to call and report that his relatives were missing.
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