Coast Guard Expands “Aggressive” Search For Missing Florida Teens

Coast Guard Expands
Austin Stephanos (right) and Perry Cohen, both 14, did not return from a fishing trip off the coast of South Florida on Friday, triggering a massive search by the U.S. Coast Guard. Photo courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard / Stephanos, Cohen families

JUPITER, Fla., July 28 (UPI) — The U.S. Coast Guard will continue to “search aggressively” for the two teenage boys have been missing off the southern coast of Florida as it expands the search area.

As of Tuesday, the Coast Guard has searched more than 27,000 square miles for Austin Stephanos and Perry Cohen, both 14, who told relatives they were going on a fishing trip Friday off the shores of Miami.

The teens’ white, 19-foot boat was found with “no souls on board” on Sunday about 67 nautical miles east of the Ponce de Leon Inlet, about 180 miles north of Jupiter, Fla., where the teens began their trip.

“None of us are giving up hope they’ll find those boys,” Pamela Cohen, the mother of Perry, told CNN. “I have 100 percent faith they’ll find our boys.”

Cohen was also optimistic about the boys’ return on her Instagram page Tuesday.

“Everyone is awaiting your safe return my sweet boy. There are literally millions of people praying for you and Austin to stay strong and hold on! We all miss you guys so much! Never stop believing!!!!!”

Capt. Mark Fedor, chief of response for the Coast Guard 7th District, said the teenagers could likely survive in the open sea for up to five days, based partially on survivability charts.

“Our intentions are to continue to search aggressively… People can survive in the water. It’s relatively warm, but — again — it’s a dangerous environment, and there’s only so long you could stay in the water,” Fedor said. “I have a 13 and 14-year-old at home and this resonates with me.”

The boys were last seen about 1:30 p.m. Friday at a filling station near Jupiter — a suburb north of Miami — where they purchased more than $100 worth of fuel.

The Coast Guard said a social media post by one of the boys indicated they may have been headed toward the Bahamas. Authorities are also asking for help from the public, encouraging witnesses to contact the Coast Guard.

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