Desperate Search Continues for Sailboat With Missing Family of Four Off U.S. Gulf Coast

Mike Schuler
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June 23, 2016

A green kayak believed to belong to a missing family who were last seen aboard a sailboat is pulled on board a Coast Guard response boat off Sanibel, Florida, June 22, 2016. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Update (5:00 p.m. EDT) – The U.S. Coast Guard has confirmed that a second body was recovered Thursday as crews continue to search off of Boca Grande for a family who was reported missing after setting sail en route to Fort Meyers on Sunday.

The Coast Guard said that the second body was recovered about 4 miles southeast of location of first body.

A photo released by the Coast Guard shows the family four on board their 29-foot sailboat on Saturday, June 18, 2016.
A photo released by the Coast Guard shows the family four on board their 29-foot sailboat on Saturday, June 18, 2016.

Earlier – The U.S. Coast Guard is continuing its search for a sailboat with a father and his three teenage children off Florida’s Gulf Coast after finding debris believed to be from the family and spotting a possible flare during the search. 

A body has also been recovered and has been transferred to local authorities for identification. 

Missing are Ace Kimberly, 45, and his three children – Rebecca Kimberly, 17, Donald Kimberly, 15, and Roger Kimberly, 13.

A family member confirmed Thursday that the body recovered is that of the missing girl. 

The family departed Sarasota, Florida aboard their 29-foot sailboat Sunday morning en route to Fort Myers. They were last heard from Sunday afternoon when the man called his brother saying the sailboat was in 6-foot seas and he was attempting to survive with his children offshore of Englewood. 

On Wednesday, an aircrew from Clearwater located a debris field 37 miles west of Sanibel, Florida. The debris included water jugs, tarps, six life jackets, a throwable life ring, a propane tank, shoes, and a basketball. Two kayaks have since been located matching the description of the kayaks known to be with the family.

On Wednesday afternoon a MH-60 helicopter crew located and recovered a body approximately 40 nautical miles west of Sanibel. The body has been transferred to local authorities for identification.

A glimmer of hope came early Thursday when a 45-foot response boat witnessed a flare while conducting the search at about 2:30 a.m., according to the Coast Guard. 

“We remain hopeful we’ll find survivors,” said Capt. Greg Case, commander of Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg. “We continue to keep close contact with the family and keep them updated on all developments during this difficult time.”

Continuing with the search Thursday are crews from the Coast Guard Cutter Alligator, Station Fort Myers Beach and Station Cortez, helicopter and fix-wing aircrews from Air Station Clearwater, Coast Guard Auxiliary and Customs and Border Protection are searching for the family. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office, Lee County Sheriff’s Office and the U.S. Air Force are also aiding in the search.

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