The search for Sean Fleming, a Vandenberg Air Force Base firefighter who was last seen June 19 kayaking off the Santa Barbara coast, is not yet over, according to a press release from a Vandenberg spokesperson yesterday. Even after the grim discoveries of his backpack and kayak, teams continue to look today for the 32-year-old Lompoc resident.
The incident commander met Thursday with Fleming’s family and brought them up to speed on the search efforts in place, but recognized the bleak reality.
“We are going to continue to search for Sean [Friday]. It’s an important search — it’s a search for closure,” said Daniel Ardoin, Vandenberg Fire Department division chief. “[Today] the search will continue and we’ll further assess to determine the way ahead. We greatly appreciate the support we have received from the base, local communities, local agencies, and our partnership with the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department. The amazing support brings encouragement during this difficult time.”
The family also thanked the group of firefighters, volunteers, and supporters for the efforts to find Fleming.
As of Tuesday, Vandenberg is in charge of the search, working closely with Vandenberg Hot Shots units conducting ground searches; water rescue teams conducting coastline searches; off-duty firefighters from Arroyo Grande, Santa Maria, Santa Barbara, Lompoc, San Luis Obispo, Oxnard, and Carpinteria/Summerland; Civil Air Patrol; Air National Guard and Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department, which has jurisdiction. The Coast Guard, however, has called off its efforts.
Local and base businesses have showed their support by providing food, beverages, and assistance to search teams.