After nearly a week of searching the waters from the Carolinas to the Keys, the U.S. Coast Guard is planning to suspend the search for two Florida Teens missing since July 24.
Austin Stephanos and Perry Cohen, both 14, were reportedly last seen in Jupiter, Florida, where the pair bought about $100 in fuel and set off on a fishing trip. They were reported missing to authorities that evening around 5 p.m.
The search hit high gear Sunday when a HC-130 airplane spotted the boys' white, 19-foot skiff floating overturned near Daytona Beach, roughly 77 miles from where they had departed two days earlier. A rescue swimmer airlifted to the scene discovered no sign of the boys but did report the vessel was undamaged aside from a missing engine cover.
Reports of a missing life vest lent hope to friends and family that the boys would be found, and prompted NFL Hall-of-Famer Joe Namath to offer a $100,000 reward for any information leading to the boys rescue. Namath is a neighbor to Austin Stephanos.
Despite what seemed like early success in the search for Austin and Perry, there have been no new developements in the past week, leading the Coast Guard to earmark today as the last-ditch effort to find the missing teens.
“We have made a decision that we will suspend at sunset tonight,” said Coast Guard Capt. Mark Fedor, chief of response for the Coast Guard 7th District in Miami. “The decision to suspend was excruciating and gut-wrenching for me.”
In what Fedor has described as a "a true, all-hands-on-deck effort," the Coast Guard has thrown everything it has at the search for Austin and Perry, deploying several planes, the cutter ships Paul Clark and Sawfish, two U.S. Customs and Border Protection planes, and Navy destroyer USS Carney. In total the search area is roughly the size of Illinois, covering ground from south of Jupiter as far north as Mount Pleasant, South Carolina.
Despite the decision to call of the search at sunset tonight, Fedor says the Coast Guard will reopen the search should any new information surface in the coming months.
"If we have any new information that comes to light in the weeks and months ahead, we will reopen the case," Fedor said. "We believe we have reached a limit for our search-and-rescue efforts."