When Florida teens Perry Cohen and Austin Stephanos, both 14, sailed away on a 19-foot single-engine boat on July 24, their loved ones never expected it to be the last time they'd see them. The boys took off to go fishing and when they didn't return later that day, their families grew concerned. Their capsized boat was discovered Sunday near Daytona Beach with one life vest on board. So far the U.S. Coast Guard has searched over 28,000 nautical square miles.
Despite their young age, Cohen's mom Pamela insists that they are experienced boatsmen and is holding out hope that they are alive and well. She tells Today, "We are 100 percent completely faithful that the boys are out there and we are committed to the search in finding them. ... At the time this incident happened, that forced the boat to capsize, they used their heads, they are smart and they are working to stay for us to come to get them."
Stephanios' mother Carly Black echoes the sentiment: "This is [Stephanos'] fourth boat. This isn't new to them. These boys have been doing this. ... It's in their blood. They're out there."
While surviving with no supplies in the open water is rough, according to Coast Guard Petty Officer Steven Lehman, "In the warm water, you can survive for quite a few days. Even four to five days in these conditions."
Monday night, friends and family gathered together on Jupiter Beach, Florida, where the boys were last seen, to release dozens of lanterns with flames in it. Family friend Isabella Murigo shares with CBS News, "Hopefully the lanterns will fly far enough and they'll be able to see them and know we're still looking for them—that we need them to come home."
The families are now asking the public for their help by keeping their eyes open for any debris off the Florida coastline—particularly a white engine cover and white YETI cooler which were also missing from the boat. There's also a $100,000 reward for anyone who finds them.
If you would like to help but don't live in the south Florida area, the family has set up a Go Fund Me account for donations to help with the costs involved in searching for the boys.