ST. PETERSBURG, FL (WFLA) – US Coast Guard officials announced on Wednesday afternoon that they had found a body during their search for a missing boat that carried a father and his three teenage children. The boat disappeared off the Florida coast near Englewood over the weekend.
The Coast Guard has not identified the body yet.
Earlier Wednesday, US Coast Guard search crews located a debris field and a kayak in their search for the family.
Ace Kimberly, 45, and his three kids, 13-year-old Roger, 15-year-old Donny and 17-year-old Rebecca, left Sarasota Sunday morning on the 29-foot sailboat that the family lived on for about one year.
The family was heading to Ft. Myers Beach to repair the sailboat, however, the boat went missing along the trip.
The Coast Guard says the man called his brother, who lives in Ft. Myers Beach, Sunday around 3 p.m. and stated the sailboat was in 6-foot seas and he was attempting to survive with his children offshore of Englewood. There were squalls and thunderstorms in the area at the time, according to Coast Guard officials.
US Coast Guard confirmed on Twitter Tuesday night that the boat was missing. A Maritime Emergency Response Team was activated which includes numerous state and local maritime emergency responders by sea and by air.
In a press conference Wednesday morning, Coast Guard officials say a debris field was located 33 miles off the Sanibel coast, by an aircraft around 9:30 a.m. Crews located a tarp, four water jugs, six life jackets, tennis shoes, a throwable life ring, a basketball and a propane tank. There was no sign of the boat. Later on Wednesday afternoon, the Coast Guard tweeted that search crews had found a green kayak that is believed to belong to the missing family.
“Finding the kayak and life jackets signals that we are in a dire situation,” said Captain Greg Case, Commander of Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg. “We are continuing to keep in very close contact with the family and keep them updated on all developments during this difficult time. Locating the debris inside of our search field indicates that we are in the right area, and we are aggressively searching for Ace, Becky, Donny and Roger.”The Coast Guard said it is “throwing everything they have at the search” at this time, and they are now “concentrating efforts on finding family.”
There is some hope the family could be found, as at least one life jacket on the boat was not found in the debris field. The Coast Guard also says the family was towing kayaks behind the boat.