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Search suspended for missing family

By Staff | Jun 27, 2016

The search for the remaining two members of a Sarasota family that went missing on Father’s Day after they got caught in heavy seas off Englewood has been suspended.

The Coast Guard and numerous partner agencies conducted more than 100 searches covering 33,830 square miles for more than 250 hours in search for the missing family – a father and his three teens – before calling the search off on Saturday, six days after Ace Kimberly, 45, called a family member in Fort Myers for a weather report after being caught in 6-foot swells.

Kimberly and his three children, Rebecca Kimberly, 17, Donald Kimberly, 15, and Roger Kimberly, 13, were reported missing last Tuesday after it was determined their 29-foot sailboat failed to make landfall in Fort Myers where it was headed for repairs.

The Coast Guard recovered one body Wednesday, approximately 40 nautical miles west of Sanibel. Cape Coral Fire and Rescue recovered a second body on Thursday at 4 miles southeast of location of first.

The names of the dead had not been released as of press time.

“I made the very difficult decision to suspend the active search operations for the Kimberly family,” said Capt. Gregory Case, Sector St. Petersburg Commander, in a prepared statement issued Saturday. “It is with a heavy heart and sincere condolences to the family and friends that I do this. This is probably the most difficult decision I ever have to make in this position.”

The family was last heard from Sunday, June 19, at approximately 3 p.m.

Searchers began finding items from the sailboat Wednesday morning when an HC-130 Hercules rescue aircrew from Air Station Clearwater located a debris field 37 miles west of Sanibel at approximately 10 a.m.

The debris field contained water jugs, tarps, six life jackets, a throwable life ring, a propane tank, a pair of shoes and a basketball and other items.

Additional finds were made through the day and on into Thursday:

* At 12:35 p.m. on Wednesday, a crew from Station Fort Myers Beach located a green sit-in kayak in the vicinity of the original debris field matching the description of a kayak known to be with the family.

* At 1:15 a.m. Thursday, an HC130-Hercules fixed-wing aircrew from Air Station Clearwater located a yellow kayak matching the description of a kayak also known to be with the family.

* At 2:26 a.m. Thursday, a Jayhawk crew and a 45-foot Response Boat-Medium boatcrew witnessed a white flare while conducting the search.

* At 8:13 a.m Thursday, a 45-foot Response Boat-Medium boatcrew from Station Fort Myers Beach located a bucket in the search area containing the Kimberlys’ birth certificates, a GPS, a wallet, two cell phones, cigarettes, a tool box and a pool noodle.

* At 11:55 a.m., a Customs and Boarder Protection aircraft located what was originally believed to be a sailboat mast 101 miles offshore Fort Myers. Upon further investigation, that report proved false; it was crab pots and fishing gear.

The Coast Guard was able to attribute all of the early debris to the ongoing search for the missing sailboat.

Crews from the Coast Guard Cutter Alligator, Station Fort Myers Beach and Station Cortez, and helicopter and fix-wing aircrews from Air Station Clearwater, Coast Guard Auxiliary, Customs and Border Protection, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office and Lee County Sheriff’s Office aided in the search.