Questions Surface in Disappearance of Jewish Teen in Florida Boating Mishap

Recently released photos of the battery switch of a Florida ship that capsized raise new questions about the disappearance of two teens last summer, a lawyer for one of the boys’ family said.

In July, Jewish teen Perry Cohen and his friend Austin Stephanos, both 14 and from South Florida, disappeared in the Atlantic Ocean after leaving for a boating trip.

Stephanos’ 19-foot boat was found capsized two days later. The boys were not on the boat and their bodies were never found. They are still officially listed as missing and have not been officially declared dead.

The boat was spotted again last month, 100 miles off the Bermuda coast, by crew members of another vessel. Before sending the boat to Florida, the crew took photos of the ship, which were released Wednesday, People reported.

Some of the images show the boat’s battery switch and ignition key turned off. The location of the switch makes it unlikely that it could have been disabled by stormy weather or natural occurrence, suggested Guy Rubin, a lawyer for the Cohen family.

“We do know for sure that boat was disabled intentionally because the battery switch, which is very difficult to get to, was in the off position. That can’t be maneuvered by the passage of time, the current, and other events,” Rubin told WPBF. “From the photos we have now, we now know the boat was disabled before the storm hit. So we don’t know whether foul play was involved or not.”

“We want forensic experts in accident reconstruction to look at the boat and tell us what happened. I’m not trying to be an alarmist, but I’m also trying to take it from a scientific approach,” Rubin added.

The Jewish teen’s mother, Pamela Cohen, previously suggested foul play may have been involved and filed a lawsuit to block Stephanos’ iPhone, which was found on the boat last month, from being returned to his family, so that law enforcement could conduct a full investigation of the device.

The two families have not yet reached an agreement regarding the phone, and a law enforcement spokesman told People that the iPhone had been turned over to the Stephanos family.

“We’re considering our next steps,” Rubin told People on Wednesday.

Author

Josefin Dolsten

Josefin Dolsten is a news fellow at the Forward. She writes about politics and culture, and edits the Sisterhood blog. She received an MA in Jewish Studies and Comparative Religion from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a BA in Government from Cornell University. Contact her at dolsten@forward.com and follow her on Twitter at @josefindolsten.

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Questions Surface in Disappearance of Jewish Teen in Florida Boating Mishap

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