■ BY MARCY SHORTUSE
As of press time on Thursday, June 23 two bodies have been recovered in the search for a family of four missing in nearby waters, and it’s possible the sailboat has been located as well.
Coast Guard and local authorities have been searching since Tuesday, June 21 for the missing family who left Sarasota early Sunday morning on their 29-foot sailboat enroute to Fort Myers. According to reports they were living on the boat. On Wednesday, June 22 at 4:30 p.m. one body was located approximately 40 nautical miles west of Sanibel. Authorities did not disclose the identity of the body found. On Thursday at approximately 11 a.m. Cape Coral Fire and Rescue recovered a second body in a location the Coast Guard described as “four miles southeast of the location of the first body.”
Not long after at 11:55 a.m. a Customs and Border Protection aircraft located a sailboat mast 101 miles offshore of Fort Myers. As of press time the Coast Guard was investigating that report. During their last contact with family members on Sunday night it was determined that they were somewhere around Englewood or Boca Grande.
The man, Ace Kimberly, 45, and his three children – 17-year-old Rebecca, 15-year-old Donny and 13-year-old Roger – were reported as missing by Ace’s brother who lives in Fort Myers. The brother reported the family was enroute to meet him to do some work on the boat. At approximately 3 p.m. Ace called his brother to tell him they were experiencing swells of three to five feet and thunderstorms, and that he was “attempting to survive” with the children.
When the Kimberly family had not shown up at their family member’s house in Fort Myers by Tuesday morning, the Coast Guard was contacted. The search for the boat began Tuesday afternoon, and local authorities, including the Boca Grande Fire Department and the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, began searching Tuesday evening.
They were still searching when news came in from the Coast Guard Wednesday morning that a debris field had been located approximately 30 miles off the coast of Sanibel. The debris included two kayaks, water jugs, tarps, a life ring, a propane tank, shoes, sports equipment and six life jackets. Then, at 2:26 a.m. on Thursday morning, Coast Guard searchers reported seeing a white flare from the area.
The Coast Guard asks mariners to keep a sharp lookout and contact Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg at (727) 824-7506 with any information regarding the whereabouts of the missing family.