Investigators Criticize Mom Over Missing Boys' Boat Trip

Her 'egregious' lack of judgment caused their apparent deaths, say Florida officials
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 19, 2017 11:18 AM CDT
Mom of Missing Boy Faulted Over 'Egregious' Judgment
This file combination made from photos provided by the U.S. Coast Guard shows Perry Cohen, left, and Austin Stephanos. Cohen and Stephanos were last seen Friday afternoon, July 24, 2015, in Jupiter, Fla.   (U.S. Coast Guard via AP, File)

Investigators say the mother of one of two 14-year-old boys who vanished off the Florida coast in 2015 showed awful judgment in letting them venture out in a small fishing boat, but she will not face charges, reports the Palm Beach Post. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement says Carly Black displayed an "egregious lapse of judgment and failure to exercise due care" that "had the effect of culminating in the disappearance of both boys who are now believed to have perished," per People. They accuse Black, mother of Austin Stephanos, of violating Florida's child neglect and abuse laws. The state, however, is not pressing charges, because boating on the open sea is not considered an "inherently dangerous activity," and thus it would be too difficult to get a conviction.

Investigators say Black allowed her son and his friend Perry Cohen to take a "minimally-equipped" 19-foot 1978 SeaCraft without basic safety devices onto open water, even though she knew that Perry's parents had forbidden him to do so without an adult present. The report also says Black waited more than two hours after she could not reach her son to notify Perry's parents that the two were missing and didn't even notify law enforcement or emergency personnel. Perry's stepfather did that immediately after they got the call from Black. Those hours are deemed critical in the search for the boys. Their boat was found capsized by a Norwegian cargo ship near Bermuda several months later. (A pilot thinks he saw one of the boys at sea.)

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