JUPITER, Fla. (WSVN) — A candlelight vigil was held along the Florida’s Treasure Coast, Sunday night, in remembrance of the two teens who went missing at sea.
As the sun started setting, family and friends gathered to light candles in memory of Austin Stephanos and Perry Cohen. “All the support, it’s just so heartwarming,” said mourner Kyleigh Wonders.
Hundreds of residents from communities near and far came together to mark the one-year anniversary of the 14-year-olds’ disappearance. “Just that everyone kept the faith and still came together a year later, it feels great,” said Wonders.
“I want the families to see that there’s still support out there,” said vigil organizer Elysa Vulpis. “I want them to know that everybody is still here.”
On July 24, 2015, the teens set out on their boat in stormy weather to embark on what would be their final journey out to sea through the Jupiter Inlet.
The Coast Guard went on an extensive search for the two teens after they went missing. However, they found no traces of them.
Their boat was found 100 miles off the coast of Bermuda in March, along with an iPhone that belonged to one of the teens.
The teens’ disappearance left their community desperately searching for answers. “It’s been really hard with them gone, so different here without them,” said Megan Benz, a friend of Stephanos.
Stephanos’ parents joined the vigil for their son by boat. They were joined by a wave of boaters that filled the Jupiter Inlet in a show of support for the family and friends coping with their loss.
“Me and Austin used to hang out, like, every weekend, and it’s been a lot different,” said Benz. “Now, since it’s summer, and I haven’t been able to see him a lot, it’s been hard.”
Mourners shed tears as night fell over the crowd, but amidst the darkness came the light of lanterns. They are a symbol that this community will always keep the light on for Cohen and Stephanos.
“It was, like, amazing how many people came to light these things without even knowing them and just for the support,” said Benz.
Cohen’s parents honored their son privately at home. As for organizers of Sunday’s event, they hope to make this an annual gathering.
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