The father of one of the Florida boys lost at sea filed a motion this week to have his name dismissed from a wrongful death lawsuit. Austin Stephanos and Perry Cohen, both 14, disappeared in July 2015 after they took a boat out to go fishing. Perry’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Austin’s parents last month, alleging that the Stephanos’ family was negligent in allowing the boys to go fishing alone.
Austin’s mother, Carly Black, and his father, William “Blu” Stephanos, were named in the lawsuit.
“If he was not permitted to travel into the ocean, against his mother’s explicit wishes and despite promises she received from the defendants that they would honor her wishes, Perry would be alive today,” said the lawsuit on behalf of Pamela Cohen, Perry’s mother.
A judge previously ruled that the Cohen family could file the wrongful death lawsuit on the grounds that Austin’s mother knew the boys were heading into a storm but did nothing to stop them. A report issued by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement found that Austin’s mother, Carly Black, was negligent in allowing them to take the boat out alone. Black also failed to notify authorities or Perry’s parents until they had been missing for several hours, investigators said.
Perry and Austin have long been presumed dead, though their bodies were never found. The boat was recovered eight months later.
“[Black allowed the boys] to go offshore into the Atlantic Ocean, an inherently dangerous environment, in a minimally equipped 19-foot boat with a single outboard motor without adult or parental supervision,” the report stated. “The egregious lapse in judgment and failure to exercise due care had the effect of culminating in the disappearance of both boys who are now believed to have perished.”
Now, however, Blu Stephanos wants his name dismissed from the lawsuit.
“[Stephanos wants to be] dismissed from this case as he did nothing wrong, he was not in charge of the boys and he had never seen the boat,” court documents stated, according to the Palm Beach Post.
The suit said Stephanos was partially responsible for the boys’ death because he did not notify authorities after he learned the boys were not missing and put off the search “in the most critical moments” in order to conduct his own search. Stephanos, however, said it was “patently reasonable” for a parent to look for his own child before notifying authorities.
Stephanos and Austin’s mother are divorced and she had custody of Austin the day the boys went missing.
“Perry was never in the care, custody or control of Blue on the day of the accident,” the motion stated. “It is a terrible thing to have allegations that one was responsible for such a tragic event – especially when there is no legal basis and no factual basis for such allegations.”