Authorities found a body clad in a life vest Wednesday afternoon, but had been holding out hope Thursday that some family members might still be alive, especially after spotting what they thought might have been a flare flashing overnight.
"We still have hope they're out there, we're still searching. It's an active search-and-rescue mission," Coast Guard Sector Commander Gregory Case told reporters Thursday morning.
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Later Thursday morning, search teams recovered a second body 4 miles southeast of where the first body was found, the Coast Guard said in a press release. A sailboat mast was also located 101 miles offshore Fort Myers. A team was headed to the the mast to investigate.
The 29-foot vessel vanished near Englewood, on the Gulf of Mexico side of Florida. The Coast Guard launched a search on Tuesday after Kimberly's brother called to report the family never made it to Fort Myers.
Items from the boat, including six life vests, a tarp, water jugs, a pair of tennis shoes, and the two kayaks the boat was towing were found on Wednesday. The items were discovered near Sanibel Island, about 33 miles offshore.
Authorities found the first body at about 4:30 p.m. Wednesday. The identities of the two victims have not been released.
The grim discovery of a second body was a blow to investigators, especially after they thought that had possibly seen signs of life overnight.
Case said a helicopter and a Coast Guard response boat "saw what they believed to be a media flare raise for about three seconds in the search area" at about 2:30 a.m. Thursday. But he acknowledged officials weren't sure it was a flare.
"It could be anything ... plane light reflections," he said.
Also Thursday morning, more items belonging to the family were recovered, including a bucket that contained birth certificates and a GPS. They were found about five and a half miles west of where the first body was located, according to Case.
"We've remained in close contact with the family," he said. "As a father of four, I know how devastating these findings are to them."
The search has covered more than 20,000 nautical miles using a HC-130 Hercules plane, a Coast Guard cutter and two other boats.
Kimberly and his children had been living in the boat for about a year, anchored in Sarasota. No distress call was issued when they went missing. There were "squalls, or typical thunderstorms," going across the area at the time, Case said Wednesday.