Coast Guard Search for Missing Teen Boaters Will Stretch Into Friday

The Coast Guard search for two missing teenage boaters off the Florida coast will continue into Friday, officials said.

Chief Petty Officer Ryan Doss says crews will continue surveying waters from Florida up through South Carolina throughout the day Thursday and overnight. A determination on plans for beyond that haven't been made, but Doss says there are no immediate plans to call the search off, since it is still believed there's a chance the 14-year-olds, Perry Cohen and Austin Stephanos, are still alive.

Matt Kuntz, Stephanos' uncle, told reporters Thursday that private efforts, largely by pilots of small planes, will go on even if the boys aren't found before authorities end a formal search.

"We will continue looking every day," Kuntz said.

He said about 20 planes and numerous boats were involved in the private search and that many other people have reached out with offers to help.

There are many unknowns about the boys, including whether they have life jackets on, might have a cooler or some other object to cling to, or have drinking water or food. The Coast Guard makes its decision erring on the side of best-case scenarios, while still noting there are limits to how long humans can survive in the open ocean.

The teens have been missing since leaving on a fishing boat on Friday.

Also on Thursday, authorities released a 911 call made by Cohen's stepfather in which he reports the boys missing. Nick Korniloff called the Jupiter Police Department at 4:23 p.m. Friday to alert them about the boys.

In a calm voice, the stepfather says the 14-year-old boys hadn't been heard from since about 11:30 a.m. and calls to a cellphone went unanswered.

"Usually he checks in and he's told to check in on a regular basis," Korniloff said.

The dispatcher says, "And you know we had a storm before, too?"

Korniloff says the boys went offshore, outside the bounds of their expected trip, though it's not clear how he knows this.

"We had no idea they were going offshore," he said.

Another prayer vigil was held for the boys on Thursday evening along Pompano Beach. One by one, lanterns floated into the sky to symbolize the boys finding a way home.

It's also a message to their parents and loved ones to know communities across South Florida are behind them.

Social media brightens the night, showing pictures all along the Florida coast of similar scenes, believing in a miracle. Organizers said they received messages from people in Georgia and South Carolina, who were going to their beaches to light candles.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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