A Florida helicopter company found two life jackets off a sandbar in Savannah, Georgia, according to a report yesterday on Yahoo, which may have belonged to missing Florida teens Perry Cohen, the stepson of Art Miami founder Nick Korniloff, and Cohen’s friend Austin Stephanos.
The report says the company, Heli Aviation, could not immediately confirm the jackets belonged to the missing boaters. A Maine-based non-profit search group known as DEEMI (Down East Emergency Medical Institute), has sent search dogs along the Georgia coastline in response to the find, an official told ABC News. According to a Facebook post. Heli Aviation is no longer assisting in the private search-and-rescue efforts.
The Coast Guard officially suspended its search on Friday July 31 at sundown, after seven days of aggressive searching that stretched into South Carolina. However, the families of the boys continued with a private search with the help of funds raised in a GoFundMe account that is no longer accepting donations.
The funds are being used toward “fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters, ships boats, fuel, and other resources required to sustain a robust and comprehensive search,” according to an emailed statement dated August 4 that Nick Korniloff sent to artnet News.
According to the statement, the privately-funded search “spans from the coastline of Jupiter, Fla. to Wilmington, NC.”
It continues, “Searchers are using containment fields in the Gulf Stream, scouring coastal waters, and investigating debris fields…the last two days of severe weather [August 2–3] hampered the ability of the searchers to exercise the full scope of the plan.”
According to the statement, the central focus is “to locate articles known to have been on the boat in hopes it will narrow the search for Perry and Austin. Canine life-scent tracking experts are on station to assist in the processing of articles recovered during the search. Articles still missing include life vests, a white YETI Tundra 35-quart cooler, a recently painted engine cover (Yamaha silver-gray) with no decals, a translucent Plano tackle box, and a pair of white Royal brand fishing/rain boots.”
The white, 19-foot Sea Craft boat that the boys were last seen in was found capsized on Sunday July 26, two days after they were first reported missing. The location of the find was 144 nautical miles north of Jupiter Inlet and 65 nautical miles east of Daytona Beach, Florida.
The Daily Mail reported that the capsized boat is now missing, and that a marine salvage company hired by the Coast Guard to tow the boat to shore was not able to locate the boat where it was originally found. A Coast Guard spokesman maintains the boat wasn’t brought to shore because the agency was focused on searching for the boys.
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