Terry Parker - Investigative Reporter
TEQUESTA, Fla. — FDLE report sparks new questions, concerns for parent of Tequesta boy missing at sea. Pamela Cohen doesn’t understand delay in calling for help to find Austin Stephanos and Perry Cohen.
The newly released FDLE investigative report into the disappearance at sea of 14-year-old friends contained revelations that shocked and dismayed the mother of one of the boys as they learned more about the other parents’ actions that day.
“From minute one, the question was out there, ‘Why didn't you call me, my son was in that boat, why didn't you give us the opportunity to save him?’" said Pamela Cohen’s attorney, Guy Rubin. “What was new in the report was the timeline.”
Rubin said the report, which concluded there was probable cause for negligence charges, opened the door to a whole new set of questions.
“All of the interaction that the family of Austin had, after the storm passed over and Pamela wasn’t notified, 911 wasn't notified - many hours passed by and those hours were so precious,” said Rubin.
The FDLE report noted that Carly Black last got a text from her son Austin around 11:35 am the day he and Perry went out on the ocean in Austin’s boat to fish. But even though a massive storm blew through the area around 1:00 pm, and she did not hear back from the boys, Black did not call 911 or Perry’s mother for almost four hours.
Instead, Black called family members and Austin’s father, who went out on his own boat to look for the boys.
The report detailed numerous interviews with a family friend, grandparents, parents and friends of the boys to piece together a dramatic timeline starting with their early morning departure out of the Jupiter Inlet, to the frantic response of Pamela Cohen and her husband when they were finally notified the boys were missing.
“So for there to be this conversation to be going on but no call to 911 and no call to the other parents for hours; that's really surprising – no, we didn't know that,” said Rubin.
The report included a copy of a Snapchat image the boys sent to a friend with the words “Peace out Jup” a phrase used locally to indicate departing on a trip to the Bahamas. Numerous friends said the boys had told them they were going to the Bahamas that day.
However, Rubin said he doesn’t think the talk was much more than adolescent bravado, because the 19 foot boat was not equipped with equipment such as a radio, GPS or any other emergency communication device, a fact the FDLE report criticized.
“It could have been bravado, a lark, a prank, a punk, but that boat wasn't going to the Bahamas,” Rubin said.
The next step to getting answers as to why 911 wasn’t called, why the Cohens weren’t alerted, may have to be another civil lawsuit.
“Pamela Cohen doesn’t want money damages. She just wants to know what happened to her son,” said Rubin.
The report detailed that Cohen had made it clear to Austin’s parents that Perry was not allowed on the ocean without an adult, yet Black and others knew the boys were going on the ocean that day to fish for dolphin.
While the FDLE report said there was probable cause for negligence charges – presumably against someone in Austin’s family who allowed the teens to go alone out on the ocean in the small boat – the State Attorney’s Office disagreed, saying the ocean in not an “inherently dangerous” place.