Friday, June 24, 2016

Sailboat is lost off Florida Gulf Coast Between Sarasota and Ft Myers

This is not good.

St. Petersburg, FL -- The search for a missing Sarasota family has taken another grim turn. A second body found Thursday, and what may be the mast from a sailboat 100 miles offshore.
Earlier, there had been three other developments. Two of them discouraging. One, offering a glimmer of hope. 
Around 11:06 a.m. Thursday, search crews recovered a second body four miles southeast of the location of the first body that was found Wednesday.
Around 11:55 a.m., an aircraft found a sailboat mast 101 miles offshore Fort Myers, Florida. A Coast Guard ship is en route to investigate.
In a press conference Thursday morning, Capt. Gregory Case with the U.S. Coast Guard Southeast updated the media on three developments in the search overnight for the missing family.
At 1:15 a.m., 60 miles offshore, the Coast Guard says it found another kayak. This time, a yellow plastic boat, similar to a green one pulled from the water the previous day. Both, they say, were vessels they’d hoped the Kimberly family might have used as a lifeboats.
“We found a yellow kayak that fits the description of the one that Mr. Kimberly was telling behind one of the two he was towing behind his sailboat,” said Case.
One glimmer of hope -- perhaps the reason they were still calling this a rescue mission early Thursday, came at 2:30 a.m.. A response boat and helicopter saw what was believed to be a meteor flare for about three seconds in the search area. It was not a hand-held flare like the one pulled from the water Wednesday.This flare was the kind that goes up in the air, like a bright white light in the sky.
"We immediately developed a search pattern for that and we have been covering that area since last night and into today," said Case.
Officials were also quick to add that it could have been from a plane or a military exercise.
“Flare sightings are difficult, because whether it was a flare or not, we're not sure. We treated like it was. It was in the search area. And, of course, we are searching that very hard,” said Case. “It could be anything: plane lights, reflection -- I mean, we get thousands of reports; some of them are flares. Some of them aren't. But we treat them all as if they are. We're certainly treating this one is if it was.”
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Case also said around 8:15 a.m. there was another discouraging find, one of the response boats recovered a bucket which contained birth certificates, GPS, wallet, cell phone, cigarettes, a pool noodle and a toolbox about 5.5 miles west of where the body was found.
Case said they've been in constant contact with the family during the developments.
For the Coast Guard and other agencies taking part in the mission, combing more than 20,000 square miles in 30 planned searches and dedicating more than 60 resource hours has become painfully personal.
“Just the fact that it's a family out there, and that's tough, you know. We want to get out there and save them,” said Case. “As a father of four, I know how devastating these findings are to them. And we are cognizant of that, and we are trying to treat them with the utmost respect.”
On Thursday, the children's mother, Pauline Solsberry, also traveled from out of state to positively identify the first body pulled from the water Wednesday by the Coast Guard's air wing in Clearwater.
Several reports quoting a relative say it was 17-year-old Rebecca, the oldest of three siblings. Solsberry says she sadly had not seen her in years. 
“I have not talked with them since 2007 because of their father,” she said by phone Wednesday, “We found out yesterday they were living in Florida.”
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family. We feel terrible about this, we are going to continue to search,” said Coast Guard Lt. Greg Marshall.