Pilot: I Saw Missing Teen Floating on Makeshift Raft
'No doubt about it'
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 29, 2016 2:15 PM CDT
Perry Cohen and Austin Stephanos   (U.S. Coast Guard via AP, File)

(Newser) – A pilot claims he spotted one of two missing Florida teens adrift at sea aboard a makeshift raft two days after the friends disappeared during a fishing trip last summer, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports. Bobby Smith was aiding in the search for Perry Cohen and Austin Stephanos when his granddaughter spotted something in the water. They descended to about 200 feet to get a closer look at the debris. "We could tell there was a person laying on it, and we circled it three times just to confirm what we were seeing," Smith tells WPBF. According to Fox News, Smith says the teen was lying on top of two pieces of styrofoam held together by a life preserver about 25 miles off the coast of Georgia. He says the teen raised his arms as they circled.

Smith had to ascend to 2,000 feet to radio for help and lost sight of the teen. When the Coast Guard arrived 20 minutes later, it was unable to find the teen or the debris. Though Smith's sighting went down as unconfirmed, he knows what he saw. "No doubt about it," he tells Fox News. His granddaughter took a photo of the debris with her cellphone, but it's too grainy to make out much detail. The 14-year-olds' bodies haven't been found, but their 19-foot boat turned up near Bermuda last month, found by a Norwegian cargo ship. Smith's possible sighting was part of a 128-page report on the search for the boys released by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission this week. (A clue in photos of the recently recovered boat opens up some disturbing possibilities, according to the lawyer of Perry's mother.)
 

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