Florida Teens Lost at Sea: No Data Recovered From iPhone, Lawyer Says

Austin Stephanos
Austin Stephanos US Coast Guard

A team of Apple engineers were unable to recover any data or information from the waterlogged iPhone of Austin Stephanos, the teen who went missing at sea last summer along with his friend Perry Cohen. Michael Pike, the lawyer for Austin’s father, Blu Stephanos, confirmed the news to the Sun Sentinel on Wednesday, May 11.

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Stephanos said he received a phone call on Tuesday, May 10, informing him that the device could not be fixed after being submerged in salt water for eight months.

“It’s just a tragic, devastating situation,” Pike told the Florida newspaper. “I know the families are very disappointed relative to the outcome of not being able to power on the phone.”

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Perry and Austin, both 14 at the time they went missing, left on a boating trip together from Jupiter Inlet on July 24, 2015, and never returned home. Both the Coast Guard and the boys’ families conducted extensive searches, but efforts were suspended a few weeks later. There were no leads until March of this year, when a cargo ship spotted and recovered the teens’ boat, which contained Stephanos’ iPhone, off the coast of Bermuda.

Perry Cohen
Perry Cohen US Coast Guard

The families of Perry and Austin feuded over the mobile device after Stephanos decided not to turn the phone over to law enforcement for a proper investigation. Instead, he went directly to the manufacturer, Apple, for help. Perry’s family disagreed with this decision and filed a lawsuit in an attempt to force Stephanos to hand over the cellphone to authorities so it could be evaluated by experts. However, days later they dropped the suit in the interest of cooperation.

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“Needless to say, we were disappointed, having hoped to get some information or maybe just some final memories from Austin’s phone,” Stephanos said in a statement obtained by the Sun Sentinel. “But the fact that it can no longer function doesn’t diminish its value as a cherished memory of my beloved son.”

Stephanos also said he was told by Apple that a team worked “around the clock” on his son’s device — but even if they were able to restore the phone, they would have faced the challenge of breaking the password.

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