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Vandenberg officials search for the missing kayaker

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Vandenberg officials search for the missing kayaker


Vandenberg Firefighter Goes Missing

Lompoc Native Went Kayaking but Didn’t Return


Originally published 12:47 p.m., June 22, 2010
Updated 4:48 p.m., June 22, 2010

A search party — led by Santa Barbara Sheriff’s deputies, County Search and Rescue, and County Fire — has been deployed to track down a 32-year-old man who went missing Saturday.

On Saturday afternoon, Sean Daniel Fleming, a Vandenberg firefighter from Lompoc, parked his vehicle at Gaviota State Beach and went kayaking off the Gaviota coast, said Sheriff’s Department spokesperson Drew Sugars.

When Fleming did not report for work on Monday, friends who were aware of his plans to go kayak fishing drove to Gaviota State Beach, where they found his vehicle.

At 6:30 pm on Monday, according to Sugars, the Coast Guard was notified and the attempts to locate Fleming began. The search lasted until nightfall and resumed this morning at dawn.

Sean Fleming
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SBSO

Sean Fleming

[UPDATE, 2:47 p.m.]:A Vandenberg spokesperson said at 2 p.m. today that Sean Fleming, a firefighter assigned to the 30th Civil Engineer Squadron, is confirmed missing after he failed to show up for work Monday morning.

According to the spokesperson, the base is taking part in the county’s search and rescue efforts, and the Vandenberg Fire Department water rescue unit is beginning searches on small water craft. Additionally, she said, Vandenberg Hot Shots are conducting ground searches.

[UPDATE, 3:09 p.m.]:Early this morning, a commercial fishing vessel headed north to the Channel Islands found a satchel floating in the water, which was later identified as belonging to Fleming, reports Sugars.

Sugars said that the search continues, with 30 people and three helicopters going up and down the coast, all the way from Jalama Beach and down to Ventura. The risk/reward factor (the odds of Fleming surviving weighed against the risk of searching for him) will be reevaluated come nightfall, Sugars said.

[UPDATE, 4:48 p.m.]:Sugars confirmed that search crews found an abandoned kayak belonging to Fleming at around 2:30 p.m. this afternoon.

Dozens of people are deployed, working for 10 different local agencies, in the search.

Sugars reported that the U.S. Coast Guard suspended its search with the discovery of the kayak; the Sheriff’s Department will continue looking until sundown and reevaluate efforts in the morning.

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