News4Jax joins volunteer boaters searching for missing firefighters

Volunteer searchers don't know firefighters, yet they want to help

By Jenese Harris - Reporter/anchor

More than 200 volunteers continued to search Tuesday for the two firefighters who have been missing in the Atlantic Ocean since Friday night. 

Most of those volunteers don't know the firefighters, but they want to help. 

News4Jax went out into the Atlantic Ocean with boat operator Carlos Serrano and Navy veteran Todd Fallin, who were among volunteer searchers going about 70 miles off the coast as part of a search grid.

Serrano's personal boat left about 11 a.m. Tuesday, traveled 50 miles east from the St. Augustine Inlet and then 20 miles southeast into the Gulf Stream. The Coast Guard assigns each volunteer boater a specific area of the Atlantic Ocean, and that was the assignment that was given to Serrano and Fallin.

"The blue dot is where the boat is at currently and the four emblems here are kind of our search grid," Serrano explained. 

At an average speed of 22 to 25 nautical miles, it took about three hours to reach the search point.

Once at the assigned grid system for the boaters, the focus became looking for any sign of Brian McCluney, who works for the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department, and Justin Walker, a firefighter from Fairfax, Virginia.

"I hope at the very least there is some closure in this," Serrano said. "Ultimately, the big thing is finding them alive and clinging to a boat and doing well."

A look in the distance appeared to be a flotation device, but it was a false alarm -- only a balloon floating in the water. That same anticipation and disappointment happened 12 times.

WATCH: Volunteers aid in search for missing firefighters

The Coast Guard and other mariner radio traffic could be heard every hour, but there was no confirmation of the two firefighters missing in the Atlantic Ocean. 

When the boat eventually returned to the dock before sunset, everyone was hopeful that the firefighters will be found.

JFRD asked anyone in the Brunswick and Savannah areas with boats capable of operating 60 miles offshore who can help on Wednesday to call 904-813-5315 to coordinate. Volunteers can call 904-763-9747. Donations can be made at JFRD.com.

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