Florida Families End Private Search for Stepson of Nick Korniloff and Friend Lost at Sea

Perry Cohen, stepson of Nick Kornilof, and friend Austin Stephanos went missing at sea.
Perry Cohen, stepson of Nick Kornilof, and friend Austin Stephanos went missing at sea.

The families of two missing Florida teens announced today that they decided to end their privately-led search for their boys at sunset on Saturday.

Perry Cohen, the stepson of Art Miami founder Nick Korniloff, and Cohen’s friend Austin Stephanos have been missing at sea since July 24.

According to a statement emailed to artnet News: “Today, after 16 days, hundreds of flight hours, thousands of square miles covered by sea, air, and foot, hundreds of thousands of dollars of both monetary and in-kind contributions, and an unprecedented outpouring of support from volunteers from our local community as well as nationwide, the search ends.”

The statement continues: “This decision came as the families faced the harsh reality of no new, credible evidence or clues to guide the search. Absent new information, continuing the search is not practical,” a spokesperson for the family said.

The two 14-year old boys embarked on a fishing trip on the morning of Friday July 24 and were in touch with their parents early in the day. They were last seen heading out of Jupiter Inlet and purchased $110 worth of fuel at a marina.

When the boys had not returned by late afternoon, Korniloff alerted authorities and the Coast Guard immediately started a search and rescue mission that lasted until the following Friday.

The white, 19-foot single engine boat that the boys were traveling in was found capsized two days later, 144 nautical miles north of Jupiter, and 65 nautical miles east of Daytona. The families held out hope that items missing from the boat, including life vests, a cooler, and an engine cover could have been used as flotation devices.

When the Coast Guard made its decision to end its search on July 31, the families of both continued their efforts privately with the help of hundreds of thousands of dollars donated to a GoFundMe account. The hashtag labels #findaustinandperry and #findperryandaustin were used to share information and raise support online. Numerous vigils and fundraisers were also held by the local community.

In a joint statement, the families of Austin and Perry said: “We love our boys and want them home. Today our hope becomes our prayer—that one day Perry and Austin will be returned to us. We thank everyone for their dedicated efforts and support.”

The families are establishing a charitable foundation in honor of two boys. The foundation will promote youth boating education, to include legislative action to enhance boater safety among teenage boaters.

 


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