'Gut-Wrenching' Decision: Search for Teens to Be Suspended | us news

‘Gut-Wrenching’ Decision: Search for Teens to Be Suspended

1 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Coast Guard plans to suspend search for Florida teens.

OPA-LOCKA, Fla. — After hundreds of rescue workers fanned out across a massive swath of the Atlantic for a full week, the Coast Guard’s search for two teenage fishermen was to end Friday, a heart-rending decision for families so convinced the boys could be alive they’re pressing on with their own hunt. Mark Fedor, chief of response for the Coast Guard 7th District in Miami. “The decision to suspend was excruciating and gut-wrenching for me personally,” he said, as the father of 14- and 13-year-old children. Even as officials announced at noon that the formal search-and-rescue effort would end at sundown, private planes and boats were preparing to keep scouring the water hoping for clues on what happened to the 14-year-old neighbors, Perry Cohen and Austin Stephanos. The parents of the boys were notified Wednesday that the search would be suspended, but the information wasn’t released publicly at that time. “If we have any new information that comes to light in the weeks and months ahead, we will reopen the case,” Fedor said. “We believe we have reached a limit for our search-and-rescue efforts.” Austin Stephanos and Perry Cohen were last seen July 24 about 1:30 p.m. near Jupiter, Fla., while buying $110 worth of fuel for their fishing boat.

The families had been holding out hope that items believed to have been on the boat, including a large cooler, might be spotted, or that the teens might even have clung to such an object in their struggle to stay alive. The saga began July 24, when the boys took Austin’s 19-foot boat on what their families said was expected to be a fishing trip within the nearby Loxahatchee River and Intracoastal Waterway, where they were allowed to cruise without supervision. The boys grew up on the water in Tequesta, Florida, constantly boated and fished, worked at a tackle shop together and immersed themselves in a life on the ocean. They clung to faith in their boys’ knowledge of the sea, even saying they thought they could have fashioned a raft and spear to keep them afloat and fed while adrift.

Many unknowns about the boys’ status persisted throughout the ordeal, including whether they were wearing life jackets (one was found near the boat, but it wasn’t clear how many were aboard) and whether they had food or water. Many others, though, voiced support, saying voyages with set boundaries are normal among boating families, and that the parents had no control over what ultimately happened. Locals turned out night after night for vigils, poured money into a collection to fund private search efforts, used their own boats and planes and walked the coastline in pursuit of any little clue that might make a break. The efforts got an early boost from a high-profile neighbor of the families, NFL Hall of Famer Joe Namath, who helped garner publicity for the story.

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