Monday, April 25, 2016
IT’S A BIG OCEAN - BEWARE
A marine supply store sticker and engine serial number allowed authorities identify the boat of two Florida teens who went missing at sea last summer. The discovery of the single-engine vessel on which 14 year olds Perry Cohen and Austin Stephanos got lost at sea during severe weather on July 24 2015 was confirmed by the Coast Guard and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
The 19-foot Seacraft vessel was found March 18, 2016 by the Norwegian supply ship Edda Fjord about 100 miles off the coast of Bermuda. There was no indication of what happened to the missing boys. The boat, floating in the shipping lane, was removed from the water by the crew of the Norwegian ship, which was returning to Norway, Doss said. Personal items, including a cell phone and plastic tackle boxes, were found on board.
The families of the two boys have been notified and the boat is expected to arrive by shipping container in the United States from Norway on May 16, 2016. The personal effects that were onboard the boat will be returned to the families of the victims. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission will examine the vessel for new information and return the boat to the family.
Days after the boys went missing, searchers located the boat dozens of miles off Florida’s Atlantic coast, well north of Jupiter, the community the pair left days earlier. The Coast Guard attached a data marker buoy to the boat because the water was too deep for an anchor. One life jacket was found in the water, but there was no sign of the boys. It’s unknown whether they were wearing life jackets. The boat drifted away by the time investigators arrived with salvage equipment to tow it about 67 nautical miles off Florida’s Ponce de Leon Inlet. The data marker buoy malfunctioned, and the craft was not located again until its retrieval by the Edda Fjord.
The Coast Guard estimated that someone could survive in the warm Atlantic waters for a long as five days at that time of year. Austin and Perry left Jupiter on July 24, 2015. 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 of the purpose of the boys’ trip and the destination. Coast Guard Capt. Mark Fedor said a significant squall hit the area about the time they left — one that that could have disabled or even capsized their boat. The National Weather Service posted special marine warnings, telling boaters to seek shelter about the time they departed. Later that day, when one of the boys’ grandmothers didn’t hear from them, she reported them missing.