Divers to search for missing kayaker in the morning

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SANIBEL ISLAND, Fla.,- A spokesperson for Florida Fishing and Wildlife said Sunday night sonar pinged on an image that matches the size of a body. Dive crews will go in first thing Monday morning to investigate. However, boats will continue to search throughout the night.

Meanwhile, the family of a kayaker, missing for nearly 48 hours, joined the search efforts off the coast of Sanibel Island Sunday.

WINK News confirmed Andrew Barber’s mother searched on a kayak, and his brother, who is a pilot, searched from the air. The search has been going on for nearly two days, and Florida Fish and Wildlife (FWC) said it will not stop searching for Andrew Barber until he is found.

Around 11 p.m. Friday the Coast Guard Station at Fort Myers Beach received a transfer 911 call from Lee County Sheriff’s from Kyle Woolwine, stating his friend Andrew Barber was missing. Woolwine told authorities their kayak overturned while fishing near the Sanibel Causeway. Woolwine said he jumped into the boat to remove buckets off water, while Barber held on in the water. That was the last time Woolwine saw Barber. Woolwine was able to swim to shore and report his friend missing.

Meanwhile, around 7 p.m. Sunday, the Coast Guard sent a release stating it had suspended the search for Barber. Crews had searched more than 1,946 square nautical miles during 31 search patterns.

“Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Andrew,” said Captain Gregory Case, commanding officer of Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg. “We have made the difficult decision to suspend the search for Andrew. Our Coast Guard crews searched diligently along side numerous agencies for two days, and despite our best efforts we were unable to rescue him.”

While the Coast Guard has suspended its search, the Lee County Sheriff’s Office and FWC intend to continue searching by boat throughout Sunday night. Saturday evening, the kayak was found empty, three miles off shore. The Coast Guard found a backpack with some personal belongings of Barber’s out in the water. WINK News confirmed neither were wearing a life jacket. Woolwine also told authorities the y had been drinking. The water on Saturday morning was 59 degrees.

The Coast Guard, Lee County Sheriff’s Office, Sanibel Police, Cape Coral Fire and Rescue, Cape Coral Marine, Iona Fire and Rescue, Pine Island Fire and Rescue, Bonita Fire and Rescue and FWC all have assisted in the search.

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