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Searchers spot white flare in search for lost family

Nicole Ashley
Associated Press

Miami — U.S. Coast Guard crews spotted what appeared to be a white flare while searching for a missing Florida family early Thursday morning in the Gulf of Mexico, one day after searchers found a body.

“Again we continue to hold out hope,” Capt. Gregory Case said in a news conference Thursday morning. “It’s an active search and rescue mission.”

But officials said the outlook appeared “dire.”

Case said rescue crews off of Florida’s Gulf coast found a bucket with more items that belonged to Ace Kimberly, 45, and children, Roger, 13, Donny, 15 and Rebecca, 17.

Case said the bucket contained birth certificates, a GPS, wallet, cellphone and cigarettes. They also found tool box and a pool noodle. The bucket was found about 5½ miles away from where the body was found Wednesday afternoon. The body has not been identified by Coast Guard officials.

The father and children had been living on the boat in Sarasota Bay. They went missing Sunday while traveling to Fort Myers, about 77 miles south of Sarasota, to fix their boat, Case said.

Kimberly contacted his brother that afternoon, saying they were caught up in “6-foot waves and thunderstorms,” Case said. The brother reported them missing Tuesday and the Coast Guard immediately launched search crews by air and sea.

On Wednesday, two kayaks were found but only one was identified as belonging to the missing family, the Coast Guard said. During a search on Thursday morning, another kayak was found that belonged to the Kimberly family.