Missing Firefighter Found in Pensacola Bay

Around 9:30 this morning a sailing instructor found a body about 300 yards from shore near the Pensacola Yacht Club.

“And officers responded, to go out on a boat and standby while we got the Pensacola fire department here with their fire boat and investigators. Obviously everyone knows we’re looking for a missing person,” says Sergeant Steve Bauer.

They were able to positively identify him as missing Mobile firefighter Ryan Vahle. Sailing instructor Tom Whitehurst was setting out markers for his class in Pensacola Bay when he made the discovery.At this time, first responders do not suspect foul play.

“There’s no indicators right now but obviously, there’s going to be an autopsy done,” says Bauer.

The 39-year-old had been missing for one week after never reporting to work last Sunday. Vahle lived on a boat in Pensacola and worked for the Mobile Fire Department.

ryan vahle pic

For now, they believe the case is accidental.

“We’re sad to hear about the news, we continue to keep the family in our thoughts and prayers and we’re thankful for everyone who was involved in the search,” says Steve Huffman with the Mobile Fire Department.

Family tonight now finding closure thanks to many agencies that came together for this search including the non-profit Klaaskids Foundation and the Escambia County Search and Rescue.

“We’ve had not only them, who are funded by donations only but we’ve had Pensacola Fire Department, Fish and Wildlife Commission, the Coast Guard, we’ve had a number of resources out here who have worked pretty hard to get some closure for the family,” says Bauer.

Pensacola Police are on the scene at Pensacola Yacht Club after a body was found in Pensacola Bay Saturday morning.
Pensacola Police officers are on the scene at Pensacola Yacht Club after a body was found in Pensacola Bay Saturday morning.


Before working in Mobile, Vahle was a fireman in Pelham, Lincoln, and Birmingham, and overseas in Iraq. His father was also a 32-year veteran firefighter.


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