Coast Guard ends search for Florida teens; private hunt goes on
MIAMI — The Coast Guard says it has done all it could to find teen boaters Perry Cohen and Austin Stephanos.
But their families say a private hunt for the 14-year-olds will press on.
The Coast Guard’s weeklong search for the two Florida teens, who went missing at sea during a burst of severe weather on July 24, will stop at sunset Friday, after an extensive coastal search that extended from southern Florida to North Carolina, Capt. Mark Fedor told reporters in Miami.
Searchers found the teens’ boat Sunday, dozens of miles off Florida’s Atlantic coast, well north of Jupiter, the community the pair left days earlier.
“We believe we reached the limit for our effective search and rescue efforts,” Fedor said.
The Coast Guard had estimated that someone could survive in the warm Atlantic waters for up to five days this time of year, and that the search went until Friday in part because the boys could have been in the boat until Sunday, when it was found capsized.
The teens’ families, however, say a private search for Perry and Austin will continue, drawing on a GoFundMe campaign that has raised more than $299,000 to pay to fly private aircraft and buy boat fuel.
“Our families are committed to continue the search and rescue efforts of our boys with the aid of volunteer pilots and aircraft,” the families said in a joint statement.
“We would like to express our heartfelt gratitude to our families, friends, neighbors, colleagues, community, along with strangers from around the globe for your prayers and thoughts as well as all that have contributed to the Perry and Austin Rescue Fund to ensure the boys’ safe return,” the statement reads.
Missing after a squall
Austin and Perry left Jupiter in a 19-foot, single-engine vessel on July 24. The Coast Guard said it had information that the boys may have told others through social media that they planned to travel to the Bahamas, but officials and family members say they’re not sure the purpose of the boys’ trip and the destination.