The Latest: Pilot calls search for adrift boys heartbreaking

AP News
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Posted: Jul 30, 2015 7:16 PM
The Latest: Pilot calls search for adrift boys heartbreaking

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — The latest on the search for the two Florida teens who went missing while on a fishing trip off Florida's Atlantic coast:

7:05 p.m.

One of the pilots who volunteered his time in the private search effort for two missing teenagers calls it "heartbreaking" to survey the water and not find the boys.

Andrew Register, a 19-year-old pilot from Nakina, North Carolina, spent about four hours airborne Thursday, scouring an area from Wilmington, North Carolina, to Charleston, South Carolina.

He and a co-pilot switched duties about every five minutes between navigating the plane and using binoculars to see the vast flat ocean below.

Register volunteered to help after learning of the private search on Facebook. Radio dispatches heard through his headset made clear many others had done the same, with pilots constantly preceding their locations and tail numbers with the term "search and rescue." The pilot says nothing beyond the occasional pelican stood out — "just a lot of water."

"It was kind of heartbreaking not finding them," he said. "If I was out there I would want somebody to come find me."

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1:50 p.m.

The families of the missing teen boaters are vowing to keep their own search going even after the Coast Guard's ends.

Matt Kuntz, an uncle of Austin Stephanos, told reporters Thursday that private efforts, largely by pilots of small planes, will go on even if the boys aren't found before authorities end a formal search.

"We will continue looking every day," Kuntz said.

He said about 20 planes and numerous boats were involved in the private search and that many other people have reached out with offers to help.

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10 a.m.

Authorities have released a 911 call in which the stepfather of a South Florida teenage boater reports the boy and his friend missing.

Nick Korniloff called the Jupiter Police Department at 4:23 p.m. Friday to alert them about his stepson Perry Cohen and his friend Austin Stephanos.

In a calm voice, the stepfather says the 14-year-old boys hadn't been heard from since about 11:30 a.m. and calls to a cellphone went unanswered.

"Usually he checks in and he's told to check in on a regular basis," Korniloff said.

The dispatcher says, "And you know we had a storm before, too?"

Korniloff says the boys went offshore, outside the bounds of their expected trip, though it's not clear how he knows this.

"We had no idea they were going offshore," he said.

The Coast Guard launched its search shortly after the 911 call was placed.

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9:45 a.m.

The Coast Guard says its search for two missing teenage boaters will press forward at least into Friday.

Chief Petty Officer Ryan Doss says crews will continue surveying waters from Florida up through South Carolina throughout the day and overnight. A determination on plans for beyond that haven't been made, but Doss says there are no immediate plans to call the search off, since it is still believed there's a chance the 14-year-olds, Perry Cohen and Austin Stephanos, are still alive.

There are many unknowns about the boys, including whether they have life jackets on, might have a cooler or some other object to cling to, or have drinking water or food. The Coast Guard makes its decision erring on the side of best-case scenarios, while still noting there are limits to how long humans can survive in the open ocean.

The teens have been missing since leaving on a fishing boat on Friday.