Apple is reportedly willing to help recover data from a saltwater damaged iPhone belonging to a Florida teenager who disappeared with another teen on a fishing trip in 2015. The iPhone was found on the pair’s recently discovered boat.
What appears to be an iPhone 6, belonging to missing 14-year-old Austin Stephanos, was found in a compartment on board a small fishing craft discovered 100 miles off the coast of Bermuda in March, reports ABC News. Two days ago, U.S. Coast Guard and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials confirmed the vessel to be the same boat carrying Stephanos and Perry Cohen, also 14, when they went missing last summer, according to a CNN report.
The duo embarked on a fishing trip on July 24, 2015, off the coast of Jupiter, Florida. The pair never returned from their excursion. While an exhaustive 50,000 square nautical mile air and sea search found the teens 19-foot craft floating adrift two days after they were reported missing, their bodies were never found.
Unfortunately, before the Coast Guard was able to return with a salvage team, the boat once again went missing, due to a faulty data buoy. The small vessel was found again on March 18 by Norwegian supply ship Edda Fjord.
Austin’s father, Blu Stephanos, says Apple “seems willing to help us try to get the phone operational again. That would be the first order of business, since Austin’s phone has been submerged in salt water for over eight months.”
While there were attempts to access Austin’s iCloud Backup, the auto-backup feature was never activated on the phone. Salvaging data from a damaged device, especially one that has been submerged in corrosive salt water for months on end, can be difficult, but there is hope the recovered device can be repaired, and the data accessed.
“Every IT professional that I’ve contacted warned me that there is a very, very slim chance that anything can be recovered from this phone… but I’m not giving up hope,” said Stephanos.