On July 24, 2015, These Two Boys Vanished While Fishing On An Ill-Equipped Boat. Nearly 2 Years Later, Police Say One Mom May Be To Blame
It’s been nearly two years since Austin Stephanos and Perry Cohen disappeared after taking Austin’s new boat out on the Intracoastal Waterway in Florida, but now it looks like Austin’s parents may face child neglect charges.
As PEOPLE reports, Austin and Perry, both 15 at the time, vanished on July 24, 2015 after they decided to go dolphin fishing in Austin’s boat, a 1978 Seacraft with a 2015 Yamaha outboard motor.
The boat had reportedly been gifted to Austin by his grandfather, Richard Kuntz, according to reports.
Austin also texted his mother, Carly Black, to tell her what he and Perry were doing and that they were safe.
The last contact Austin had with his mother was at 11:24 a.m. on July 24, though Perry’s phone was reportedly not working on the boat that day.
Although it still remains unclear exactly where the boys had planned to go fishing, it was said at the time that a storm hit the area around 1:30 p.m. that day.
By the end of the day, the boys were reported missing and their parents began scouring the entire area for any clue that might lead them to their sons.
As CBS 12 reports, “according to the report on July 26, 2015, two days after the disappearance, the hull of the Seacraft was spotted by a helicopter 67 miles east of the Ponce de Leon inlet in Volusia County. The sighting of the boat was reported, but there wasn't any substantial evidence was found by the Coast Guard to give clues on the boys' survival.”
The hull of the missing boat was ultimately found months later, in March 2016, but there were no clues as to what happened to the boys.
Now authorities say the two teens could have been rescued had the boat been equipped with basic features, such as GPS, EPIRB, and radio or communications devices.
The FDLE’s report states that the families also waited at least two hours to report the boys missing, time that “would have made a successful rescue infinitely more probable.”
In fact, authorities have concluded that Black in particular showed an “egregious lapse of judgment” by allowing the boys to go out on an ill-equipped boat by themselves.
After neglect allegations were thrown at Black, Perry Cohen’s mother, Pamela Cohen, has released the following statement via her attorney, Guy Rubin:
“Pamela Cohen is a grieving mother in search of answers to her son’s disappearance. Last week, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) concluded its investigation into the disappearance of Perry J. Cohen and his friend Austin. The new revelations in the FDLE report paint a stark picture, one characterized by a calamity of errors in judgment and missteps that could have potentially averted this tragic loss of life. As she and her family process the FDLE report and new information regarding the boys’ disappearance, Ms. Cohen requests her privacy be respected.
“While appreciative of efforts by FDLE and FWC, important questions remain unanswered and the actions of those involved must be held accountable. Since the active phase FDLE’s investigation, Ms. Cohen continues to be forced to defend her legal rights in a federal maritime action brought by Austin’s mother, Mrs. Carly Black. That court action seeks to limit the value of all losses, including the lives of Perry and Austin, to $500.00, and would restrict Ms. Cohen’s legal rights to further seek justice. Ms. Cohen is committed to pursuing the truth in a manner that affirms her rights as a parent and respects the life and memory of her son, Perry, and his friend Austin.”
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