‘Miracles Do Happen': Fairfax Co. Fire Hopeful Missing Firefighters Will Be Found

A Virginia fire department remains hopeful one of their firefighters and his friend and fellow firefighter will be found after not returning from a fishing trip.

"We’re devastated by this, but people remain hopeful," Fairfax County Assistant Fire Chief Chuck Ryan said. "Miracles do happen."

The U.S. Coast Guard called off its search Thursday after Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department firefighter Brian McCluney and Justin Walker of the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department disappeared after leaving a Florida port on a fishing trip last week.

"Without additional information, we have simply reached a point where our computer modeling and our ability to search in a given location are no longer allowing us to search with any reasonable degree or probability of success," U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Mark Vlaun said.

Walker's shift was on duty in Franconia Thursday as the search was suspended.

"The International Association of Firefighters provided peer support counselors for our folks yesterday," Ryan said. "Justin’s shift was on duty, and they were very appreciative of that support from the IAFF."

Scores of volunteers began looking for the firefighters Saturday, a day after they were supposed to have returned to Cape Canaveral.

The search exceeded 105,000 square miles. The closest searchers got was finding a tackle bag belonging to McCluney.

"When it’s one of your own, it hits home much more deeply, and the second part of it is the unresolved questions," Ryan said. "You know, the what may have happened? The what did happen? What is still happening?”

While the Coast Guard suspended the targeted search, regular patrols will still keep a lookout for the two men.

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