Massive Vigil Held for Florida Teens Missing at Sea

The two 14-year-olds initially went missing from the Jupiter area, more than 180 miles south of where the boat was found.

The U.S. Coast Guard released new video Monday of the capsized boat that belonged to two 14-year-old fishermen from Jupiter, Florida, who went missing on their way to the Bahamas for a fishing trip.

Around 11 a.m. on Sunday, Coast Guard crews spotted the 19-foot boat captained by Perry Cohen and Austin Stephanos roughly 67 miles east of Ponce De Leon Inlet near Cape Canaveral in central Florida. There was no one on board the vessel.

The two 14-year-olds were initially reported missing on Friday from Jupiter, more than 180 miles south of where the boat was eventually found. They were last seen on Friday near the Ponce De Leon Inlet buying $110 worth of gas.

"We operate with the highest level of optimism," Coast Guard Petty Officer Steve Lehmann said at a news conference Monday morning.

"We know that people have been out there longer, people have survived. We have to keep going," said Nick Korniloff, Perry's stepfather. "We will not give up...we believe the boys are still out there."

Despite their young age, both families describe the teens as experienced and responsible boaters.

The boat will be anchored in place as search-and-rescue efforts continue. Lehmann says that ocean drift patterns complicated the search efforts, but that the Coast Guard is now re-calculating its search plans based on the boat's location.

Officials said at a Monday press conference that they've covered 27,000 nautical square miles in their search for the boys.

Meanwhile, hundreds of family members, friends and classmates took part in a Sunday night prayer vigil at Jupiter Christian School, where Stephanos has attended since kindergarten.

NFL legend Joe Namath joined the families of the boys Monday as they continued to appeal to the public for help. Namath is the neighbor of Cohen, one of the missing boaters.

"We're just going to continue to try to find those kids," Namath said Monday. "Anyone out there understands when someone needs help we should lend a hand."

The families are offering a $100,000 reward for information leading to their safe return.

"It's a lot of water out there," Namath said. "We just keep on looking till we get an answer."

Korniloff said the boys were raised on the water and said he didn't want to comment on whether the boys were too young to be out in the ocean.

"Accidents happen, even to adults out there," he said.

On Monday evening, hundreds of family and friends gathered for another vigil at Jupiter Beach, praying for the teens and releasing lanterns off into the sea.

"I've been praying every day and doing everything I can possibly do to make them come home," a friend said.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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