Missing Florida teens' boat, iPhone found off Bermuda coast
TEQUESTA — 1 p.m. update: Blu Stephanos, the father of Austin Stephanos, released this statement Saturday afternoon about the recovery of the boat that carried Austin and Perry Cohen when they went missing at sea on July 24, 2015:
“In mid-March, I was contacted by a Havard Melvaer, captain of the Norwegian transport and supply vessel the Edda Fjord, who notified our family that they had recovered my son’s missing boat off the coast of Bermuda. Capt. Melvaer provided us with some photos of the salvage operation and items recovered from the vessel. These photos verified that it was, indeed, the missing boat.
Perry “I wrote back to Capt. Melvaer to thank him for devoting the time and manpower necessary to recover my son’s boat and the care they took to preserve its contents.
“Capt. Melvaer returned a heartfelt reply explaining that, as a father of three boys, the story of Austin and Perry had affected him deeply. He wrote about growing up in Norway and how the support and freedom he received from his parents gave him the opportunity to explore, to try and fail, and how it made him the person he is today. He went on to say that, since recovering the boat, his entire crew had thought a lot about the boys and said, ‘I think they will follow us in our hearts and minds for the rest of our lives.’
“I can say without hesitation that our deep appreciation for the compassionate efforts of Capt. Melvaer and the crew of the Edda Fjord will be something that remains in our hearts as well.
“At this point, our family is hoping and praying that Austin’s iPhone, now in the care Florida Fish & Wildlife, can be restored to working order so that we can try to recover from it any precious memories that it might contain.”
12:40 p.m. update: The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has released photos of the boat that carried Perry Cohen and Austin Stephanos on July 24, 2015, when they went missing at sea.
One photo shows the serial number on the engine that authorities used to verify that it was the teens’ boat.
12:05 p.m. update: Here is the text of the FWC’s statement on the recovery of the boat that carried Perry Cohen and Austin Stephanos on July 24, 2015, when they went missing at sea:
“On March 18, 2016, Multi Purpose Supply Vessel Edda Fjord, while enroute to Norway, discovered a capsized small craft approximately 100 miles off the coast of Bermuda. The boat was subsequently confirmed to be the boat that belonged to Austin Stephanos.
“The FWC has notified the families of the two boys with this new information. The boat is scheduled to arrive by shipping container to the United States on May 16.
The boat that carried Perry Cohen and Austin Stephanos was identified by the serial number on its engine, the Coast Guard said. (Photo contributed by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission) “The personal effects that were onboard 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.”
11:15 a.m. update: The Tequesta teens boat is enroute by sea to Florida and is scheduled to arrive May 16, according the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
10:55 a.m. update: The Norwegian research Edda Fjord was on its way back to Norway on March 18 about 100 miles off the coast of Bermuda when it found the capsized boat, said Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Ryan Doss.
The boat that carried Perry Cohen and Austin Stephanos is recovered on March 18 off Bermuda. (Photo contributed by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission) “It was floating in the middle of a shipping lane,” Doss said.
The crew lowered a small boat to examine the craft. They identified it was the Tequesta teens boat by the serial number on the engine, Doss said.
The Norway crew moved the research craft to the boat. They used a crane to bring the craft on board. They reported their findings to the U.S. Coast Guard.
Composite/photos supplied The boat carrying to Perry Cohen (L) and Austin Stephanos (R), the two Tequesta teens who went missing last summer, reportedly still had some personal items in it, including an iPhone that belonged to Austin. “There was a sticker on board from a marine supply store in Palm Beach County,” said Doss.
Also on board was a cell phone, two fishing rods and two small tackle boxes, Doss said.
The teens’ boat was taken back to Norway, Doss said.
10:35 a.m. update: The scene was quiet Saturday morning at Jib Yacht Club and Marina in Tequesta, the spot from which Perry Cohen and Austin Stephanos left in their 19-foot boat before becoming lost at sea.
Boaters said they had heard the news but declined comment.
The marina is on the west side of barrier island, just south of the Beach Road bridge.
Original post: The boat carrying Perry Cohen and Austin Stephanos, the two Tequesta teens that was lost at sea last summer, and an iPhone belonging to one of the boys appear to have been found, according to the parents of one of the boys.
Perry and Austin went missing July 24, 2015, after leaving the Jupiter Inlet in a 19-foot Seacraft boat. The U.S. Coast Guard first located the boat off the coast of New Smyrna Beach days later, but it was gone when they went back to tow it days later.
Now Pamela Cohen and Nick Korniloff, Perry’s parents, are saying a boat headed to Norway spotted the lost vessel 100 miles off the coast of Bermuda. The boat still had some personal items, including an iPhone that belonged to Austin, according to Cohen and Korniloff.
“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 prepared statement Saturday morning.
All of the items have been turned over to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the couple said. FWC did not immediately return calls for comment early Saturday.
The family is hoping that information on the iPhone or the boat will lead to more clues about where the boys were and what happened.
“This has been nine months now of pain and suffering. We’d like to have some sort of closure,” Korniloff said in a telephone interview with The Palm Beach Post Saturday morning.
Pamela Cohen said the family has received well-wishes from people worldwide.
“We just want to know the answers,” she said. “We just want to try to figure out what happened.”
The boat is expected to be brought back to South Florida by mid-May.
The Stephanos family did not immediately respond to a request for comment Saturday.