Families End Private Search for Missing Teen Boaters

The families of two Florida boys who disappeared at sea announced Sunday they have ended their privately-led search for the teenagers, NBC affiliate WPTV reported.

According to a press release, the families called off their search at sunset on Saturday, Aug. 8. Austin Stephanos and Perry Cohen went missing on July 24th, and were last seen leaving the Jupiter Inlet.

"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. We thank everyone for their dedicated efforts and support," the families said.

The U.S. Coast Guard searched for a week, finding the boys' boat capsized in the ocean east of Daytona Beach.

The Coast Guard ended its search for the boys on July 31, while the families decided to continue their search privately.

A family spokesperson said Sunday, "Absent new information, continuing the search is not practical."

“We will never stop looking for our boys, Austin and Perry," the families said in a statement. "We want to thank the US Coast Guard and the many volunteers from Florida to Maine whose contributions were nothing short of extraordinary. We express a special debt of gratitude to the Palm Beach community for its generosity and outpouring of love and support. We ask that you join us in our prayer that one day Perry and Austin will be reunited with their families.”

The families are establishing a charitable foundation in honor of Austin and Perry, to promote youth boating education and include legislative action to enhance boater safety. A central focus will be preventing future incidents involving teenage boaters.

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