Coast Guard Suspends Search For The Family Who Went Missing During Sailing Trip In Florida

The Coast Guard, on Saturday, called off its search for the family that went missing during a sailing trip in the Gulf of Mexico nearly a week ago. Ace Kimberly and his 17-year-old daughter, Rebecca, who also went by Becky, along with his two sons, 15-year-old Donny and 13-year-old Roger, set off to Fort Myers on an impaired boat to meet up with Ace’s brother, who was going to help them do repairs on their boat. NBCNews.com reports that the father and his children were last heard from on Sunday afternoon when Ace called his brother to tell him that the boat was in six-foot seas, and said the family was attempting to survive offshore. Ace was not heard from again.

Ace’s brother didn’t report the family missing until Tuesday morning, at which point the Coast Guard launched a massive search by sea and by air for the boat. The search covered more than 33,830 square miles. Coast Guard Sector Commander Gregory Case said at a news conference that two bodies had been discovered during the search and were identified as Ace and Becky. The bodies of Donny and Roger have not been located. Ace’s brother told investigators that he believed there were seven life jackets on board. However, only Becky was wearing one, her father was not.

“Rebecca had a life jacket on, and father Ace did not,” Case said. “We know there was bad weather… It’s just difficult when you don’t find everything and you don’t have anyone left to tell the story,” he explained when questioned about the cause of the tragedy.

Watch the video report about the incident below:

Case said it was a “very difficult decision” to suspend active search operations for the other children.

“This is probably the most difficult decision I ever have to make in this position,” Case told reporters. He also said that Ace’s brother “did the best he could.”

“He didn’t have their exact travel plans… He did a good job in helping us,” he added. “They’re a strong family. They all came together. They took it hard but… they were strong,” Case said during the press conference. “A lot of them reacted more strongly than I think I would. They were very helpful in getting us information we needed to help us do a more effective search.”

AOL.com reports that the state’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will collect the evidence gathered by searchers in an effort to determine what happened. Debris collected so far included “water jugs, a tarp, tennis shoes, a basketball and a propane tank.” Rescuers also found two kayaks that the family had been towing behind the sailboat, per CNN.

“There may be some questions that we will never have the answers to,” said Major Roger Young of the commission. “But the point of the investigation is to try to get to the bottom of what happened.”

The family had lived on the boat for about a year, anchored in Sarasota. The Coast Guard received no distress call after they went missing. There were “squalls, or typical thunderstorms,” going across the area at the time, according to Case. The family’s 29-foot boat vanished near Englewood, on the Gulf of Mexico side of Florida. The cause of the tragedy has yet to be determined.

[Image via Shutterstock]