Missing Florida teens: Mother says boys could 'swim before they could walk'

The US Coast Guard has expanded its search for two 14-year-old Florida boys who went missing while on a fishing expedition

(Thomas Cordy/The Palm Beach Post via AP)
People gather during a candlelight vigil and paper balloon release at Jupiter Inlet Park, Monday, July 27, 2015, for teenagers Austin Stephanos and Perry Cohen in Jupiter, Fla. The teens were last seen Friday afternoon buying fuel near Jupiter and were believed to have been heading toward the Bahamas.

The latest on the search for the two Florida teens who went missing while on a fishing trip off Florida's Atlantic coast:

7:55 a.m. Tuesday

The mothers of the two boys who went missing while fishing off Florida's coastline say they believe their sons have the knowledge and skills needed to survive in the water.

Speaking Tuesday on NBC's "Today" show, Pamela Cohen says she believe her son, Perry Cohen and his friend Austin Stephanos are "doing everything they can to stay afloat." The 14-year-olds have been missing since Friday when they took a 19-foot boat into the Atlantic to fish.

Carly Black said her son Austin has been around the water since he was born. Both said their sons learned to swim before they could walk.

Responding to criticism that the teens were too young to operate a boat alone, Pamela Cohen said the boys had been around boats their entire lives and life on the water is second nature to them. She compared it to kids who live on a farm and drive tractors or children who live in the mountains and learn to hunt at a young age.

The mothers said they don't believe their boys were heading to the Bahamas, as has been widely reported. Instead, they believe they were fishing offshore when the weather turned bad and "something went amiss."


7:15 a.m.

The U.S. Coast Guard has expanded its search for two 14-year-old Florida boys who went missing while on a fishing expedition.

Petty Officer Anthony Soto said Tuesday that crews are searching in the Atlantic Ocean as far north as Savannah, Georgia, and as far south as Cape Canaveral, Florida, for Perry Cohen and Austin Stephanos.

The pair was reported missing from Jupiter, Florida, on Friday afternoon. They were last seen purchasing $110 worth of gas for their 19-foot boat and were believed to be heading toward the Bahamas. Their capsized boat was found Sunday morning off the coast of Ponce Inlet, more than 180 miles north of where they started their journey.

The search has continued day and night.

Soto said three Coast Guard cutters and a C-130 Hercules airplane searched throughout Monday night for the boys.

Coast Guard spokesman Petty Officer Mark Barney told CNN, “We’re heavily concerned for their well-being and we’re doing every we can do to bring them back home.”

 "It’s one thing for the boys to be missing inside the vessel, and it’s another thing for them to be missing in open water. …Now they’re in an even worse situation if they are to be in the water right now,” he said.

Survivenature.com gives some tips for open ocean survival:

  • STOP and think. STOP stands for “stop, think, observe, and plan.”
  • Float. If a flotation device is available, use it. If not, find a floating position that uses the least amount of energy
  • Find water. If you have items that can be used to collect rainwater, use them. You can also find drinkable liquids in fish.
  • Find food. Pull in any seaweed you find and look for edible fish, crabs, and shrimp.
  • Travel and rest. Allow the current to take you where it must. Only paddle when the shore is visible.
  • Rescue. Find someway to signal to others that you are there. 
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