Father of Missing Teen Austin Stephanos Says He Got a Final Text in Interview: Report
The father of one of the two Florida teens who went missing last summer while on a fishing trip said that his son was “very responsible” in an interview with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
The Palm Beach Post reported this week that Blu Stephanos told investigators last September that his son Austin was told he could go “a couple of miles offshore on a calm day.” The FWC recently released a recording of Blu’s interview.
Austin Stephanos and Perry Cohen, both 14, disappeared in July 2015 amid a storm off Jupiter, Fla., but Blu said that his son had been “driving a boat since he was 10 years old.”
“It’s not like we just gave him keys to a boat. He commonly went offshore on calm days. He was not allowed to go to the Bahamas,” he said, per the Post.
The teens’ capsized 19-foot boat was found 100 miles from the Bahamas by a Norwegian cargo ship earlier this year. This month, the boat was delivered to a port in Florida.
Blu Stephanos also got a text from his son on the day the boys disappeared.
“What’s Up? I’m checking in. I’m just out here fishing,” it read, reported CBS12. That was the last time he heard from his son.
He also said that his son was excellent with boats and could even repair them, to an extent.
“If a fuel line broke, he could put it back on,” his he told investigators, according to the newsppaer. “He’s smart enough kid to do that. But with most engines now you need a computer. Is my son a mechanic? No. He was a very good fisherman. I started teaching him a little bit (about fishing) and he started teaching me a lot.”
In the recorded interview released by the agency, Stephanos also said he had been searching for the boys until dark. He described the search as “gut-wrenching,” AP reported.
The news agency added:
FWC continued the interrogation.
FWC: “Did he have any restrictions where he could go when he went out on the boat?”
Stephanos: “He’s not allowed go to the Bahamas. He’s not allowed to go, you know.”
Blu Stephanos said he didn’t know much about the vessel, which was a gift from Austin’s grandfather.
“He was really excited about the boat, you know, and, uh, you know I just don’t know. I mean obviously that stayed at his grandfather’s house,” Blu Stephanos said.
The search continued for a few more weeks, but the boys were presumed dead.
Austin also posted a Snapchat video showing clouds overhead. Blu said he didn’t use the social media app, however.
“I never had Facebook until this happened. I opened Facebook because I was desperate for help,” he said.
Before the teens disappeared, Perry had also sent a message to his mother, Pamela Cohen.
“Mom, it’s Perry. My iPad is dead, I’ll text you in a little. Love you,” Cohen texted to his mother, Pamela, on July 24, reports said last month.
She wrote back to him, “OK. I wanted you to sleep home tonight, I miss you. We leave Sunday morning for New York. What about your work?”
And he responded, “But I was going to sleep at,,,” without finishing.