Apple will examine an iPhone used by one of two Florida teens who were lost at sea nine months ago. The Cupertino firm will attempt to recover data from the device.
14-year-old Austin Stephanos and friend Perry Cohen, also 14, set off in a single-engine vessel on a fishing trip off the coast of Palm Beach County, Florida in July 2015. The boys never returned, and while their vessel has been recovered, the boys bodies were never found.
ABC News notes Austin’s iPhone was on board when the boys’ boat was recovered last month about 100 miles off the coast of Bermuda.
Cohen had borrowed Stephanos’ iPhone to communicate with his family the day they disappeared. While the Cohen family wanted the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to treat the phone as evidence in an open missing persons case, the agency instead returned the device to the Stephanos family.
Pamela Cohen then sued the Stephanos family to have the phone returned to the state, to allow possibly accessing the contents of the salt-water damaged device, and if necessary, have it turned over to law enforcement officials for any possible criminal investigation.
Both families have agreed to turn the device over to Apple, which has agreed to take a look at the phone and analyze it to see if any data is recoverable. The iPhone will be sent to Apple’s Cupertino headquarters via FedEx for forensic examination.
At this point, no one knows if the device was passcode protected, or what methods Apple will use to attempt recovering data from the device. If anything is recovered, the information will be turned over to a judge, who will decide if the data is to be considered as evidence in a possible criminal investigation, or whether that same information will be shared with both families.