A Coast Guard helicopter crew that discovered the capsized boat used by Perry Cohen and Austin Stephanos two days after they went missing was tasked with searching for survivors and not retrieving evidence or items from the vessel, a spokesman said Monday.
The Coast Guard lost track of the boat for months before it was located by a Norwegian ship March 18 off the coast of Bermuda. An iPhone belonging to Stephanos was found inside the 19-foot SeaCraft sport-fishing boat, leading some to wonder if the phone holds clues to the boys’ disappearance and if a more thorough search of the boat when it was first found could have turned up the phone.
Petty Officer Mark Barney said that a Coast Guard rescue swimmer dropped into the ocean after the boys’ boat was located off New Smyrna Beach on July 26 was primarily concerned with finding and rescuing Cohen and Stephanos.
"Once it was confirmed that the boys weren’t in the vessel or near the vessel, we didn’t want one of our assets just standing by with the boat," Barney said. "We weren’t really concerned with the boat. Our main concern was the boys, and we wanted to make sure we had all…