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No data found on phone of Florida teens lost at sea

By Martin Smith
Florida teens Perry Cohen and Austin Stephanos went missing last summer after leaving the Jupiter inlet on a 19-foot Seacraft boat. The vessel was rediscovered empty 100 miles off the coast of Bermuda. Their bodies have yet to be found. Photo courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard / Stephanos, Cohen families.
Florida teens Perry Cohen and Austin Stephanos went missing last summer after leaving the Jupiter inlet on a 19-foot Seacraft boat. The vessel was rediscovered empty 100 miles off the coast of Bermuda. Their bodies have yet to be found. Photo courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard / Stephanos, Cohen families.

JUPITER, Fla., May 11 (UPI) -- The father of one of two teenagers who went missing on a fishing trip off the coast of Florida says Applen told him the company can't restore his son's recovered iPhone.

Blu Stephanos issued a statement Wednesday saying that the device was damaged beyond repair after being at sea since last July.

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It had been hoped that data could be retrieved from the iPhone 6, which might offer clues as to what happened to Austin and his friend Perry Cohen, both 14.

The pair disappeared on July 24 last year when their 19-foot boat capsized north of Jupiter, Fla., during a storm. They were never found despite a massive air and sea search.

Video footage released last month, shows the boys sailing out into the ocean on that last fatal journey.

Michael Pike, lawyer for Austin Stephanos' father, said the Apple engineers were unable to restore the phone, which was still on the teens' boat when it was discovered by a Norwegian cargo ship off Bermuda in March.

"It's just a tragic, devastating situation," Pike told the Sun Sentinel. "I know the families are very disappointed."

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Blu Stephanos said the Apple team took apart the phone to clean and try restoring its components. It was described as being rusted and deteriorating because it had been submerged in water.

"The fact that it can no longer function doesn't diminish its value as a cherished memory of my beloved son," he said.

"It's a small piece of him; something he used to call me at night when he needed to talk to someone, something he put his stickers on and carried with him every day.

"As any parent would understand, to me, it's not a broken phone, but a memory of my son that I will hold close to my heart and treasure for the rest of my life."

The retrieval of the phone had caused tension between the two boys' families.

Cohen's mother had sued Stephanos' parents and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to have the phone examined by an impartial third party after the commission released it to the Stephanos family.

Last month, Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Gregory Keyser ordered it to be shipped to Apple for forensic analysis.

After the boys went missing, their families spent two weeks combing 50,000 square nautical miles of the southeastern coast of the United States up to South Carolina. The families of the teens previously received roughly $480,000 in donations to continue their private search before finally calling it off.

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