The mother of a Florida teen who disappeared on a fishing trip with a friend wants the other boy's family to hand over their son's recovered cellphone in hopes authorities can use it to help answer lingering questions.
The cellphone belonging to Austin Stephanos was inside the 14-year-old boys' capsized boat, which was spotted last month in the Atlantic Ocean near Bermuda and recovered by the captain of a Norwegian supply ship.
Austin and Perry Cohen went missing last July after an intense storm struck while they were fishing in Jupiter Inlet.
Perry's mother issued a statement Sunday seeking to enlist the help of the state's attorney because Austin's father, Blu Stephanos, hasn't given Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission investigators permission to search his son's iPhone.
"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," Pamela Cohen's statement read. She did not respond to phone and email messages Monday.
Stephanos said the family is working to access data from Austin's phone and has been cooperating with authorities.
"We’ve been working very closely with FWC since they received the phone and have the utmost confidence in them," Blu Stephanos said in a statement. "In addition, we’ve been working with the phone’s manufacturer who seems willing to help us try to get the phone operational again. That would be the first order of business, since Austin’s phone has been submerged in salt water for over eight months. We’ve also had an IT expert access the phone’s Cloud backup and, unfortunately, found that it had never been enabled."
Mike Edmondson, the spokesman for local state attorney Dave Aronberg, declined to comment, referring all questions to FWC and the Cohen family.
FWC spokeswoman Carol Lyn Parrish did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment.
Austin's cellphone, two fishing rods and two small tackle boxes were returned to the families. The boat was packed up and is expected to arrive at Port Everglades in May.
Austin and Perry are presumed drowned. They were never found, despite a weeklong Coast Guard search and another two weeks of searching by family members and volunteers.
During its search, the Coast Guard did spot the overturned 19-foot boat near Daytona Beach, almost 200 miles from where the boys departed. It was gone when a recovery boat arrived at the location.
This is not the first rift to appear between the families since their sons' disappearance. Last October, Cohen asked that Austin's parents not use Perry's name and likeness while fundraising for their new foundation.