WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — The mother of a teenager who disappeared with his friend while boating in the Atlantic Ocean filed suit Friday against the other boy’s parents and grandfather, alleging they should have prevented them from taking an ill-equipped boat out to sea.
The mother of Perry Cohen filed the suit against the family of Austin Stephanos. Both boys were 14 when they disappeared off the Palm Beach County coast in July 2015 after a storm, launching a massive search. They were never found. A Norwegian cargo ship found their overturned 19-foot boat months later in the Bahamas.
Pamela Cohen alleges Austin’s mother Carly Black, his father William Blu Stephanos and grandfather Richard Black Jr. should have stopped the boys from taking the Stephanos’ boat onto the ocean with a storm approaching and should have properly equipped the boat with a radio, a location device and other safety equipment. She also alleges she had told the family her son was not allowed out on the ocean without an adult onboard, that they waited over two hours to report the boys missing and that they knew the boys had been out the day before during a storm but didn’t tell her.
“Perry’s family cannot just move on, put this behind them or let it go,” Cohen’s attorney, Guy Rubin, said. “There is no easy way to move forward. For Pamela, the bond with her one and only child is too strong to let this pass without pursuing the truth.” Though the suit specified no amount being sought, Rubin said any money won would be donated to charity.
Attorney George Harris, who represents Carly Black, did not respond to an email and phone call seeking comment. A telephone message left by The Associated Press at the Black family’s business wasn’t immediately returned.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement said in June that investigators had found evidence of child neglect against Carly Black, but prosecutors said there wasn’t enough to pursue criminal charges.
According to the FDLE report, Black told investigators it was common for the boys to go fishing together, and she believed they were “the victims of a tragic mishap.”
Investigators said Black allowed the teens to “go offshore into the Atlantic Ocean, an inherently dangerous environment, in a minimally equipped 19-foot boat with a single outboard motor without adult or parental supervision,” and without a radio or an emergency beacon that could have been used to locate them.