Coast Guard finds boat, but no sign of 2 teen fishermen

TEQUESTA, Fla. (AP) — The Coast Guard scoured the waters off Florida on Monday, searching for any sign of two 14-year-old fishermen who disappeared three days earlier as they headed toward the Bahamas.

On Sunday, the Coast Guard located the teens’ 19-foot boat about 67 miles from where they were last seen buying $110 worth of gas. The center-console boat had capsized but it didn’t appear damaged.

This combination made from photos provided by the U.S. Coast Guard shows Perry Cohen, left, and Austin Stephanos, both 14 years old. Cohen and Stephanos were last seen Friday afternoon, July 24, 2015, in the Jupiter, Fla. area buying fuel for their 19-foot boat before embarking on a fishing trip. (U.S. Coast Guard via AP)
This combination made from photos provided by the U.S. Coast Guard shows Perry Cohen, left, and Austin Stephanos, both 14 years old. Cohen and Stephanos were last seen Friday afternoon, July 24, 2015, in the Jupiter, Fla. area buying fuel for their 19-foot boat before embarking on a fishing trip. (U.S. Coast Guard via AP)

“This is an active search-and rescue case,” Coast Guard Petty Officer Steve Lehmann said Sunday night. “We maintain our perpetual optimism that we are going to find somebody.”

There were storms in the area at the time Perry Cohen and Austin Stephanos started their trip Friday. Despite their age, they have been described as experienced boaters.

As the Coast Guard searched for them, hundreds of family members, friends and classmates took part in a Sunday night prayer vigil at Jupiter Christian School, where Stephanos has attended since kindergarten.

Coast Guard officials said they’ve used a helicopter, boat and airplane and searched some 26,000 square nautical miles since the boys were reported missing Friday afternoon. Petty Officer Jon-Paul Rios said Monday that ocean drift patterns complicated the search, but that crews continued to search.

The overturned fishing boat was spotted about 11 a.m. Sunday. A Coast Guard helicopter lowered a rescue swimmer who confirmed the registration numbers of the boat. Lehmann said the boat will be anchored in place while search-and-rescue efforts continue.

The teens were last seen Friday afternoon near the Ponce de Leon Inlet buying $110 worth of gas before heading in the direction of the Bahamas to fish.

NFL Hall of Famer Joe Namath, who is Cohen’s neighbor, said during a news conference that both teens are experienced boaters.

“We’ve got to believe in their wherewithal,” Namath said.

The families of the teens are offering $100,000 reward in the search.

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Information from: The Palm Beach (Fla.) Post, http://www.pbpost.com

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