Boat belonging to missing Florida teens, Austin Stephanos and Perry Cohen, found off Bermuda coast
The boat belonging to two teenagers who went missing off the coast of Florida during a fishing trip last year was discovered off Bermuda nearly eight months after they vanished, authorities said Saturday.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission said the 19-foot single-engine boat that Austin Stephanos and Perry Cohen, both 14, sailed off the coast of Jupiter on July 24 was found by a Norwegian supply boat on March 18 while on the way to Norway. The vessel was discovered about 100 miles off the coast of Bermuda, or about 1,000 miles from where Stephanos and Cohen were last seen before setting off on their fishing trip.
An iPhone and a tackle box were found on the teens' recovered boat, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission notified Stephanos and Cohen's parents of the find "very quickly" after confirming it was Stephanos' boat, said Rob Klepper, a spokesman for the Fish and Wildlife Commission. The families were told they could come forward with the information "in their own time," Keppler said.
Perry's parents, Pamela Cohen and Nick Korniloff, told the "Palm Beach Post" of the find on Saturday.
"This is an open missing persons case, and we hope that FWC reopens their investigation and utilizes the expert resources of other government agencies as well as the private sector if necessary to extrapolate the data from the recovered iPhone," Cohen and Korniloff said in a statement released to NBC News.
The boat is set to arrive in the U.S. in mid-May, and "personal effects that were on-board the boat will be returned to the families of the victims, and subsequent information retrieval efforts from any of those items will be at their discretion," Keppler said.
The Coast Guard called off the search for the teens a week after they went missing after covering nearly 50,000-square nautical miles along a stretch that extended from the shore of Jupiter to Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.
The families ended their own personally funded search for the two on Aug. 10. "We love our boys and want them home. Today, our hope becomes our prayer — that one day Perry and Austin will be returned to us," the families said in a statement at the time.
The Coast Guard had initially located the teens' boat, capsized, two days after they went missing, but when a salvage crew returned 12 hours later to secure the boat, it was gone.
See photos of the missing teens: