As the Coast Guard continued a desperate search Wednesday afternoon for a missing sailboat carrying a father and his three teenage children, rescuers in Florida spotted a green kayak believed to belong to the family near the quartet’s last-known position.
A seperate debris field located earlier in the day contained a tarp, four water bottles that had been tied together, a pair of tennis shoes, a basketball, a propane tank and six life jackets were found in the field, which Capt. Gregory Case said was “right in the middle of the search pattern,” although it wasn’t clear if it belonged to the relatives. No sign of them or their boat was found. The debris field was located about 33 miles off the southern Florida coast.
“We’re searching in a particular spot,” Case said Wednesday afternoon. “We kind of have tracked their voyage and where they should be, and we’ve backdrifted that.”
Ace Kimberly, his daughter Rebecca, 17, and sons Donny, 15, and Roger, 13, haven’t been heard from since Sunday afternoon, when Ace phoned his brother to report the family had been caught up in six-foot waves and were “attempting to survive.” Squalls, or typical thunderstorms, had been rolling through the area the Kimberlys were sailing on Sunday, Case said.
Ace’s brother called the Coast Guard on Tuesday when he grew concerned that the family hadn’t reached their intended destination of Fort Myers. They were sailing the boat from Sarasota to Fort Myers to have repairs done.
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The U.S. Coast Guard launched a HC-130 Hercules airplane from Clearwater, and several other vessels from Stations Cortez and Fort Myers, Petty Officer 2nd Class Ashley J. Johnson told the News-Press. The Maritime Emergency Response Team had also been activated.
The 29-foot boat reportedly did not have a name or a radio, CBS reported. Case said officials never received a distress call.
He said the Kimberly family was “feeling very anxious and upset, and they’re hoping for the best.”
Mariners with any information were asked to contact the Coast Guard’s St. Petersburg sector at 727-824-7506.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.