TIME Florida

Coast Guard Suspends Search for Missing Teen Fishermen

Perry Cohen (L) and Austin Stephanos, both 14 years old.
U.S. Coast Guard—AP Perry Cohen (L) and Austin Stephanos, both 14 years old.

The families will press ahead with a private search

(OPA-LOCKA, Fla.)—After hundreds of rescue workers fanned out across a massive swath of the Atlantic for a full week, the Coast Guard’s search for two teenage fishermen ended Friday, a heart-rending decision for families so convinced the boys could be alive they’re pressing on with their own hunt.

The agency said it ended the search at sunset, as it had announced earlier in the day. The Coast Guard searched waters from South Florida up through South Carolina without success.

Even as officials announced at noon that the formal search-and-rescue effort would end at sundown, private planes and boats were preparing to keep scouring the water hoping for clues on what happened to the 14-year-old neighbors, Perry Cohen and Austin Stephanos.

Capt. Mark Fedor called the decision to suspend the search “excruciating and gut-wrenching.” He suggested what long had been feared by observers — that the boys had surpassed any reasonable period of survivability — with his offering of “heartfelt condolences.”

“I know no statistics will ease the pain,” he said in recounting the seven-day, nearly 50,000-square-nautical-mile search. “We were desperate to find Austin and Perry.”

With volunteers ready to keep searching all along the coastline and about $340,000 in search-fund donations by Friday evening, the families promised to keep looking for their sons.

Nick Korniloff, the stepfather of Perry, addressed a horde of media outside his home on a quiet street in Tequesta, Florida, saying air searches led by private pilots would go on alongside new efforts led by former members of the military and others with special training.

“We know there’s a window here and we think there’s an opportunity,” he said, “and we will do everything we can to bring these boys home.”

Those who have met with the families believe the private search could go on at least for weeks.

“How could you go back to normal?” said Tequesta Police Chief Christopher Elg, who has stayed in regular contact with the families. “They may very well devote a large portion of the next few weeks, months, maybe even years just toward hope and doing what they can to bring themselves a sense of peace.”

The Coast Guard had dispatched crews night and day to scan the Atlantic for signs of the boys. They chased repeated reports of objects sighted in the water, and at times had the help of the Navy and other local agencies. But after the boys’ boat was found overturned Sunday, no useful clues turned up.

The families had held out hope that items believed to have been on the boat, including a large cooler, might be spotted, or that the teens might even have clung to something buoyant in their struggle to stay alive. Even as hope dimmed, experts on survival said finding the teens alive was still possible. The Coast Guard said it would keep on searching until officials no longer thought the boys could be rescued.

The saga began July 24, when the boys took Austin’s 19-foot boat on what their families said was expected to be a fishing trip within the nearby Loxahatchee River and Intracoastal Waterway, where they were allowed to cruise without supervision. The boys fueled up at a local marina around 1:30 p.m. and set off, and later calls to Austin’s cellphone went unanswered. When a line of summer storms moved through and the boys still couldn’t be reached, police were called and the Coast Guard search began.

The boys grew up on the water, constantly boated and fished, worked at a tackle shop together and immersed themselves in life on the ocean. Their families said they could swim before they could walk. They clung to faith in their boys’ knowledge of the sea, even speculating they might have fashioned a raft and spear to keep them afloat and fed while adrift.

“It is a mother’s prayer that you will be safe and sound in our arms today,” Austin’s mother, Pamela Cohen, tweeted Friday. “Missing you both more than you could ever imagine.”

Many unknowns about the boys’ status persisted throughout the ordeal, including whether they were wearing life jackets and whether they had food or water. The Coast Guard said it tried to err toward optimism in deciding how long to press on.

Along the way, some suggested the teens shouldn’t have been allowed to boat on their own. Many others, though, voiced support, saying voyages with set boundaries are normal among boating families, and that the parents had no control over what ultimately happened.

Locals turned out night after night for vigils, poured money into the private search fund, used their own boats and planes and walked the coastline in pursuit of any little clue that might make a break. The efforts got an early boost from a high-profile neighbor of the families, NFL Hall of Famer Joe Namath, who helped garner publicity for the story.

TIME Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton Takes the Fight to GOP in Florida Trip

Democratic Presidential hopeful and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton calls for an end to the Cuban trade embargo as she gives a policy speech at the Florida International University on July 31, 2015 in Miami, Florida.
Joe Raedle—Getty Images Democratic Presidential hopeful and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton calls for an end to the Cuban trade embargo as she gives a policy speech at the Florida International University on July 31, 2015 in Miami, Florida.

"The Cuba embargo needs to go, once and for all"

Hillary Clinton attacked Republicans presidential candidates on Cuba policy, voting rights and social welfare policy during a jaunt on Friday to Florida, the home state of contenders Sen. Marco Rubio and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and a likely swing state in the general election.

During two appearances in Fort Lauderdale and Miami, where Clinton discussed race and engaging with Cuba, the Democratic frontrunner called out Bush and others who have opposed President Obama’s thaw with the isolated island nation.

Clinton did not mention Bush’s name in her first speech at the National Urban League’s annual conference in Fort Lauderdale, but dropped the name of his super PAC, “Right to Rise.”

“You cannot seriously talk about the ‘Right to Rise’ and support laws that deny the right to vote,” Clinton said. “I don’t think you can credibly say that everyone has a right to rise and then say you’re for phasing out Medicare or for repealing Obamacare. People can’t rise if they can’t afford health care.”

Tim Miller, a spokesman for Bush tweeted a quick response to Clinton’s criticism: “The DNC and Hillary scramble to attack Jeb today and misrepresent his record betrays their fear of his ability to broaden GOP support,” he tweeted.

A few hours later on Friday in Miami, Clinton made a case for continuing to open up relations with Cuba, calling on Congress and the White House to lift the embargo on trade with Cuba.

“It’s time for [GOP] leaders to either get on board or get out of the way. The Cuba embargo needs to go, once and for all,” Clinton said.

The 2016 Republican candidates “have it backward,” Clinton said. “Engagement is not a gift to the Castros, its a threat to the Castros. An American embassy in Havana isn’t a concession, it’s a beacon.”

Republicans argue that the United States should not normalize relations with Cuba unless the government makes significant steps to curb human rights abuses and open up the country.

Clinton’s campaign in the last few days has set out specific criticism of Rubio, Bush and Scott Walker’s position on Cuban relations with a detailed “fact check” of their past statements, arguing that a policy of isolationism has not succeeded in leading to democratization in the communist island nation.

Clinton proposed on Friday finding ways to increase business with Cuba as well as the rest of the Americas, saying that the United States too often looks “east and west, but we don’t look south” and calling Latin America a crucial part of American foreign policy. “Our economies, our communities and even our families are deeply entwined,” Clinton said.

Polls show that Clinton has struck on a winning issue in Cuba: a Gallup survey found that 59% of Americans support reestablishing diplomatic relations with Cuba.

“We cannot afford to let out of touch out of date partisan ideas and candidates strip away all the progress we’ve made,” Clinton said.

TIME States

Coast Guard to Suspend Search at Sunset for Missing Florida Teens

Petty Officer 1st Class Mike Crosby (R) scans the surface of the Atlantic Ocean while searching for Florida teens Perry Cohen and Austin Stephanos on July 28, 2015.
Senior Chief Petty Officer Sarah B. Foster—U.S. Coast Guard via AP Petty Officer 1st Class Mike Crosby (R) scans the surface of the Atlantic Ocean while searching for Florida teens Perry Cohen and Austin Stephanos on July 28, 2015.

The teens' families will continue a private search

(MIAMI) — The Coast Guard says it’s suspending its search at sunset for two teenage fishermen who’ve been missing for a week.

Capt. Mark Fedor says the search continues in the meantime and has been a ‘true all hands on deck effort’.

The 14-year-old boys, Perry Cohen and Austin Stephanos, went missing last Friday and their capsized boat was found Sunday. The Coast Guard has searched waters from South Florida up through South Carolina without success.

The boys’ families say they plan to continue a private search even after the Coast Guard’s efforts end.

The boys are described as consummate seamen who grew up on the water and spent much of their free time boating and fishing.

___

A Florida congressman who represents the community where two teenage fishermen went missing at sea is urging the U.S. Coast Guard to keep searching Friday.

Rep. Patrick E. Murphy issued a statement with a simple plea: “Keep looking.”

Fourteen-year-olds Perry Cohen and Austin Stephanos of Tequesta have been missing since they set out on a fishing trip a week ago. Their capsized boat was found Sunday.

The Coast Guard has said it will keep searching until it believes there’s no reasonable chance the boys could still be found alive. The agency has scheduled a noon news conference on the search.

Murphy, a Democrat, said noted that the water temperatures are warm and the two teens “know the water well.”

TIME Crime

Man Inspired by ISIS Charged With Plotting Florida Backpack Bombing

Authorities say the Key West resident came to the FBI's attention through his online posts praising the Islamic State

(MIAMI) — A man described by the FBI as an Islamic State sympathizer has been charged with plotting to detonate a backpack bomb on a Florida beach.

A criminal complaint unsealed Tuesday charges 23-year-old Harlem Suarez of Key West with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction in the U.S. Authorities say Suarez came to the FBI’s attention through his online posts praising the Islamic State group and containing extremist rhetoric.

Suarez made his first court appearance Tuesday in Miami. It wasn’t immediately clear if he had a lawyer.

The complaint says Suarez told an FBI informant he wanted to make a timer bomb, bury it on a Key West beach and detonate it. Suarez was arrested Monday after taking possession of an inert explosive device provided by an FBI informant.

TIME Florida

Florida Cop Caught Throwing Peanuts at Homeless Man

Randy Miller was arrested for trespassing at a convenience store when the incident took place

A Florida police department is mired in criticism after an officer was seen on surveillance video throwing peanuts at a homeless man.

The tape shows Officer Andrew Halpin tossing peanuts while booking Randy Miller at the Sarasota County Jail on July 18. Miller is seated and handcuffed, and opens his mouth like a circus animal — apparently at Halpin’s command.

Two officers watch in the background as the apparently intoxicated Miller tries to catch the peanuts.

The video was made public on Monday. Sarasota Police Chief Bernadette DiPino told NBC station WFLA she was not aware of the incident until the…

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

TIME Bizarre

Treasure Hunters Find Over $1 Million Worth of Shipwrecked Spanish Gold off the Florida Coast

Haul comes from the fabled 300-year-old wreck of the Capitana

A Florida family of professional treasure hunters has struck gold after discovering over $1 million worth of coins and jewelry in a huge Spanish shipwreck from the 18th century, Florida Today reports.

The Schmitt family, who are subcontractors for treasure hunting company 1715 Fleet–Queens Jewels LLC, discovered the treasure off the Florida Coast in the wreck of the Capitana, the flagship of a Spanish treasure fleet.

The haul includes 51 gold coins, 40 ft. of ornate gold chain and a Tricentennial Royal, an extremely rare Spanish coin valued at over $500,000, Florida Today says.

This is not the first time that gold has been found in this famous shipwreck. Captained by Don Juan Esteban de Ubilla, the Capitana carried an enormous fortune in Spanish jewels when it sunk in a hurricane in July 1715, according to Florida Today, and has been the subject of books, documentaries and blog posts.

The Schmitts are seasoned treasure hunters, Florida Today adds, having first found gold in September 2013. They came across the Capitana haul last month, but the news of their discovery was withheld to coincide with the 300th anniversary of the shipwreck.

[Florida Today]

TIME Florida

Families of Missing Florida Teens Plead for Help

Perry Cohen (L) and Austin Stephanos, both 14 years old.
U.S. Coast Guard—AP Perry Cohen (L) and Austin Stephanos, both 14 years old.

Overturned boat was found Sunday, two days after 14-year-olds took it out

The families of two teenage boys who went missing while fishing off the coast of Florida pleaded for help Monday, asking people to scour the shores for debris or any clues that might lead to their sons.

The 19-foot white single-engine boat that Austin Stephanos and Perry Cohen, both 14, took out off the coast of Jupiter late last week was found Sunday, roughly 67 miles off the shore of Daytona Beach. There was no sign of the teens in the boat, according to the Coast Guard.

“We want everybody, once again, from Palm Beach all the way up the coast of…

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

TIME Crime

Landscaper Sent to Jail for Killing Ducks With a Lawnmower

Jason Scott Falbo II pleaded guilty to felony animal cruelty charges

(WELLINGTON, Fla.) — A Florida landscaper who ran over a family of ducks with his riding lawnmower has been sentenced to a year in jail.

A Palm Beach County judge sentenced 24-year-old Jason Scott Falbo II last week after he pleaded guilty to felony animal cruelty charges.

Authorities say Falbo mowed down the ducks May 2 at the home of a family caring for them in Wellington. Police say nine ducklings died, while their mother and two ducklings survived.

The family says the ducklings were just a few days old. Boyd Jentzsch told police his family, including his 7-year-old son, watched from inside their home, screaming as the ducks were run over.

Also last week, Falbo pleaded guilty to domestic battery in an unrelated incident about a month before the duckling deaths.

TIME Florida

NFL Great Joe Namath Joining Search For 2 Missing Florida Teens

Missing Teen Fishermen
AP This combination made from photos provided by the U.S. Coast Guard shows Perry Cohen, left, and Austin Stephanos, both 14 years old.

The boys headed off for a fishing trip on Friday. They have not been heard from since

Former NFL great Joe Namath is appealing to the public for help in finding two 14-year-old boys, who have been missing at sea since Friday.

“We’re all praying,” Namath, flanked by the boys’ families, said at a press conference on Sunday in Tequesta, Fla., according to Fox News. “We got a lot of people out on the water and in the air looking for them. We’ll stay out there until we find them.”

The boys, Austin Stephanos and Perry Cohen, embarked on a fishing trip in a 19-foot boat in the Atlantic Ocean on Friday. They were last seen buying fuel on Friday afternoon near Jupiter, Fla.

Perry is the son of Namath’s neighbor.

The boys’ families are offering a $100,000 reward for their safe return.

 

TIME Florida

Woman’s Body Found in Pond 25 Years After She Disappeared

"It's good for us to be able to provide that type of closure for them. It's been a long time coming"

A vehicle pulled from a pond near North Fort Myers, Fla. solved a 25-year-old mystery, according to a local NBC affiliate.

Officials in Florida identified the body of Rita Sue Zul after pulling a barely recognizable red Datsun from the pond on Monday. Zul had reportedly gone missing on Jan. 15, 1990 after failing to return home from the restaurant where she worked.

A man looking for metal objects using a fishing pole with a magnet attached to the end found the car. When a tow truck pulled it to the surface, human remains were found inside. The medical examiner’s office identified the body using dental records.

“It’s good for us to be able to provide that type of closure for them. It’s been a long time coming,”Sergeant John Desrosier of the Lee County Sheriff’s Office told the NBC affiliate.

 

 

Your browser is out of date. Please update your browser at http://update.microsoft.com