Fourteen-year-old Austin and his friend, Perry Cohen were last seen on July 24, 2015 in Jupiter, Florida.The boys left Austin's house that morning in Austin's 19-foot, single-engine Seacraft boat for a fishing trip.
Both boys were very experienced at fishing and boating, and Austin had been driving boats since he was 10 years old and was also capable of making minor engine repairs. According to his father, he was allowed to drive only a few miles offshore on calm days.
The boys texted their parents at 11:00 a.m., and they bought more than $100 worth of fuel at a marina in Jupiter, Florida at 1:30 p.m. They were using Snapchat on their phones that afternoon; their last message read: "we're fucked."
Within a few hours of them leaving the Jupiter marina, Austin & Perry were hit by a storm with up to 40-mile-per-hour winds and they never returned home. Their parents reported them missing at 5:00 p.m., and the Coast Guard began a search.
On July 26, 2015, Austin and Perry's boat was sighted from the air, about 65 milers off the coast of Daytona Beach. The boat was not recovered at that time and it was gone by the time crews came out to get it. It was sighted again in September 2015, 160 miles off the coast, and again, it could not be recovered.
In March of 2017, the boat was finally recovered off the coast of Bermuda; a Norwegian transport ship recovered it and delivered it to a Florida port. The battery switch (which is difficult to reach and almost impossible to switch off by accident) was switched off & the key was in the ignition and in the off position.
Authorities discovered Austin's iPhone and fishing gear on board the boat, but some other items (including a white Yeti cooler and some life jackets) were missing. The phone was badly damaged from months of exposure to the seawater.
Austin's father initially didn't want police to examine it, but he eventually relented. Authorities were unable to get any data off of it.
The state of Florida opened an investigation into Austin's family for possible child neglect.
In June of 2017, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement ruled that there was probable cause to charge Austin's stepfather, Richard "Bubba" Black, with child neglect because his "egregious lapse in judgment" led to the boys' disappearance. However, a prosecutor did not file any charges against them.
Although Perry and Austin's mothers were once good friends, after the boys disappeared the families fell into conflict with each other; Perry was not allowed to go fishing without an adult present, something Austin's family was aware of.
In the summer of 2017, two years after the boys' disappearance, Perry's mother filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Austin's parents, his stepfather, and his grandfather, alleging that their negligence led to Perry's death.
As of 2018, the boys' bodies have never been found and they are presumed lost at sea.
Austin is described as a Caucasian male with blond hair, green eyes, is 5'2 and weighs 115 pounds. He has a birthmark on his upper arm.
He was last seen wearing a long-sleeved black shirt, camouflage-print board shorts, and a gold chain necklace with a cross.