Coast Guard: Missing Boys Could Survive in Sea for Days

Families say Fla. teens have the skills to survive
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 28, 2015 2:21 AM CDT
Updated Jul 28, 2015 5:51 AM CDT
This combination made from photos provided by the US Coast Guard shows Perry Cohen, left, and Austin Stephanos, both 14 years old.   (US Coast Guard via AP)
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(Newser) – The families of Perry Cohen and Austin Stephanos are living a nightmare—the 14-year-old boys are missing at sea and their capsized boat was found on Sunday—but they believe the teens have the skills to survive. As the search off the coast of Florida continues, family members say the boys may have crafted a flotation device using items including life jackets, an engine cover, and a cooler that were missing from their single-engine fishing boat, USA Today reports. Relatives and neighbors say the boys, like others in their Palm Beach County neighborhood, are experienced sailors and have been around boats their entire lives, reports the Palm Beach Post.

A Coast Guard spokesman says the search is continuing "aggressively" and the water is warm enough that the teens, who were last seen on Friday, could survive for four or five days, the Post reports. Because of currents, search efforts are focusing on the area north of where the boat was found near Daytona Beach, though they could be hard to spot, the spokesman says. "When a person is in the water, you're basically looking for the chest up, so it's a relatively small object you're looking for," he says. "It's a challenging environment." The families have urged people from Palm Beach to the coast of Georgia to look for clues that might have washed up, especially the Yamaha engine cover and YETI cooler, NBC News reports.

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