Guy Rubin in the Sun Sentinel: After tragedy at sea, a sharp divide emerges between teens’ families

Marc Freeman

Before Tequesta teens Austin Stephanos and Perry Cohen disappeared at sea nearly two years ago, the 14-year-old boys had built a solid friendship along the waters near their homes.

Pals since they were 10, the kids often fished and boated together and used social media to stay in touch.

Their parents also got along well. Perry once took a trip to the Bahamas with Austin and his family, and there was talk of a joint-family fishing foray to the islands.

But newly released records show the families’ good relations ended the moment Austin’s mom called Perry’s mom late on the afternoon of July 24, 2015, to report the kids were missing in the ocean and had not been heard from for about five hours.

There was “shock and dismay over learning that Austin’s family had betrayed a trust with regards to the limitations clearly placed on Perry’s authority to go offshore,” Perry’s stepdad recalled in a Feb. 22 meeting with investigators. Perry’s family also was in disbelief that Austin’s family had not yet called 911, he said.