Ace Kimberly family search spots possible flare off Florida coast

Andrew Cummings
June 24, 2016

The U.S. Coast Guard says a second body has been recovered as crews continue to search the Gulf of Mexico for a family missing off the coast of southwest Florida.

The Coast Guard said today a bucket with a wallet and a Global Positioning System was found 5 miles away from the body. The bucket was found about 5 1/2 miles away from where the first body was found Wednesday afternoon.

On Wednesday, two kayaks were found but only one was identified as belonging to the missing family, the Coast Guard said. On Thursday they found a sailboat mast. A Coast Guard cutter was en route to investigate.

Case said the bucket contained birth certificates, a Global Positioning System, wallet, cellphone, and cigarettes.

The agency announced in a news release that Capt. Gregory Case will give an update on the search at 10 a.m. Thursday in St. Petersburg.

The brother reported them missing on Tuesday and the Coast Guard immediately launched search crews by air and sea.

"We have been covering that area since last night", Case said, noting that many things, including airplane lights and reflections, can be mistaken for flares, but rescue crews are treating the sighting as if it were a flare.

"It's an active search-and-rescue mission", Case said.

"It's tough", Case said.

Authorities said Ace Kimberly, 45, and his children, Roger, 13, Donny, 15, and Rebecca, 17, left Sarasota about 7 a.m. Sunday en route to Fort Myers to fix their sailboat.

The vessel ran into a storm with 6-foot (1.8 m) seas, on Sunday off Englewood, a community about 30 miles (48 km) south of Sarasota, according to authorities.

Kimberly contacted his brother Sunday afternoon, saying they were sailing in "6-foot seas and thunderstorms".

The Coast Guard received no distress call from the vessel, he said. "They're all feeling what we're all feeling - anxious, upset and hoping for the best", he said. "We are doing everything we can and throwing everything we have at this search at this time".

It was found about 38 miles off Sanibel Island, which sits a few miles off of Fort Myers' coast. They said items recovered included six life jackets, water jugs, and a propane tank as well as a kayak. A pool noodle and tool box were discovered nearby.

Capt. Gregory Cage said helicopter and boat crews saw what appeared to be a white flare at 2:26 a.m. Thursday as they searched for 45-year-old Ace Kimberly and his three teenage children.

"We remain hopeful we'll find survivors", Case said at a Thursday news conference.

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