Missing Florida Teens Lost at Sea Were Spotted Multiple Times, Claims New Report

The boat the two 14-year-olds vanished on July 24 was found on March 18

Photo: Courtesy Coast Guard(2)

A 128-page investigative report released by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission claims there were many leads following the disappearance of Florida teens Austin Stephanos and Perry Cohen.

The 14-year-old residents of Tequesta “were spotted in distress on the day of their disappearance,” according to the FWC findings as reported by CBS affiliate WPEC. “There was also a sighting just two days later. A fisherman saw a small boat with two young people onboard head offshore.”

The 19-foot Seacraft boat that Stephanos and Cohen were in was previously spotted near Daytona Beach, Florida, on July 26, two days after the boys went missing. The boat was later found on March 18 about 100 miles from Bermuda along with an iPhone and other personal items inside.

One day prior on July 25, a pilot spotted a person clinging to a makeshift raft, according to the FWC report. In addition, the FWC interviewed a woman who called the Coast Guard three times to report two stranded boys working on their motor prior to an approaching storm.

“The family of Austin Stephanos will never and has never had any intention of withholding any information from the Cohen family,” Margaux, who is Austin’s aunt, told PEOPLE in a statement. “Don’t we all want transparency? Don’t we all want the truth? The truth is that the loss of a child is the greatest pain a parent could ever possibly endure. The truth is that not knowing or having answers is beyond painful,” she wrote. “The truth is that this grieving process is never going to just go away. The truth is that we will all be affected by the loss of our boys every day for the rest of our lives.”

Friends of the teens previously reported they received Snapchat messages including one from Austin that read, “Peace out jup'” as well as “one that advised they were in trouble.”

WPEC uncovered that Brent McCarthy, lead investigator of boating accident investigation, was “voluntarily demoted from investigator to officer and then resigned from the agency.”

The Coast Guard ended the public search for the boys on July 31. Neither Stephanos nor Cohen have been found.

Since the boys’ disappearance, both families have launched nonprofit foundations, The AustinBlu Foundation and the Perry J. Cohen Foundation, aimed at promoting boater safety education.

Related Articles