Missing Florida Family at Sea: One Body Found in Debris Field

June 22, 2016 Updated: October 5, 2018

UPDATE at 7:53 p.m.: Coast Guard said personal items believed to belong to family have been found off the coast of Sanibel, Fla.

A body was found in a debris field 33 miles off Florida shores as the Coast Guard searches for a missing sailboat with a family on board.

A father sailing with his three teens was reported missing near Englewood, Fla., on Tuesday, June 21. The Coast Guard launched a search and found a body that the agency believes belongs to one of the family members, Coast Guard Captain Gregory Case said at a Wednesday press conference broadcast live by local Fox 13 News.

The body was not identified as family is being notified first.

The Coast Guard continues to search for the remaining three missing, Case said.

Ace Kimberly, 45, from Sarasota and his teenagers Roger Kimberly, 13, Donny Kimberly, 15, and Rebecca Kimberly, 17, left Sarasota at 7 a.m. on Sunday and headed to Fort Myers for repairs on the 29-foot sailboat.

Around 3 p.m. that day, the father called his brother and said the sailboat was in 6-foot seas and he was “attempting to survive with his children offshore of Englewood and requested weather information,” the Coast Guard stated in a press release.

When the family didn’t turn up in Fort Myers, the brother contacted the Coast Guard on Tuesday and the agency sent a helicopter, an airplane, and three boats to search for the family.

The Coast Guard searched through the night.

The aircraft discovered the debris about 33 miles off Sanibel Island on Wednesday morning. The debris included four waterbottles, one or two tennis shoes, a basketball, a propane tank, six life jackets, and a kayak the boat towed. The brother confirmed the debris was consistent with items on the missing boat, Case said.

The brother said the boat had at least seven life jackets and also towed two kayaks.

The Coast Guard recovered two kayaks, but only one of them belonged to the family, according to Ashley Johnson, a Coast Guard spokeswoman.

The father was living with the children on the boat for about a year in Sarasota, but the boat was “not in the best shape,” Case said.

Case said the boat’s engine probably wasn’t functioning and the family was using a small outboard engine instead.

As of 6:30 p.m. (Eastern Time) Wednesday, the search continues. Johnson said it’s common for Coast Guard to continue searches throughout the night.

Follow Petr on Twitter: @petrsvab