Possible Flare Spotted in Search for Family Missing off Florida Coast

Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(SARASOTA, Fla.) — Searchers briefly saw what looked like a flare in the water early Thursday morning as they continued searching for a family who disappeared Sunday in 6-foot seas off the western coast of Florida.

Around 2:30 a.m. Thursday, helicopter and boat crews saw something in the search area that looked like it could be a flare rising into the air, for three seconds. But when the area was further searched, no dflare was found, the Coast Guard said Thursday.

One body with a life jacket on was found Wednesday in the Gulf of Mexico. The body has not been identified.

The Coast Guard said Thursday a bucket with a wallet and a GPS was found 5 miles away from the body.

"We still have hope," a Coast Guard official said Thursday, calling it a "dire" situation, but added, "We want to get out there and save them."

The Coast Guard began searching Tuesday for Ace Kimberly and his teenage children, Rebecca, Donald and Roger, after a concerned relative contacted authorities.

Kimberly's brother told the Coast Guard that the four family members had at least seven life jackets on their 29-foot sailboat, which they live on. They were towing two kayaks when they left Sarasota, Florida, at 7 a.m. Sunday en route to Fort Myers for boat repairs.

At about 3 p.m. Sunday, the now-missing man called his brother to say the boat was in 6-foot seas near Englewood, 30 miles from Sarasota, and the family was trying to survive.

Items including six life jackets, two kayaks and a flare were found Wednesday off the coast of Florida's Sanibel Island.

The father has full custody of the children and is separated from their mother, the children's aunt, Sadie Dilts, told ABC News. Dilts said her sister — the children's mother — lives in Indiana and was on her way to Florida Wednesday.

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