WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - The Coast Guard called off its search for 16-year-old Billy Patient early Tuesday morning. But his family is still holding onto hope the teen could be alive.
"I'm not holding up well. I'm angry and scared and I feel a little guilty," Billy's mother Rita Patient said.
The teen disappeared off of Juno Beach Sunday while swimming with other teens from The Academy, according to the family.
According to its website, The Academy specialize in adolescent substance abuse and recovery.
"The last place Billy was seen was on the beach in the water. The counselor says that he saw Billy and that he asked Billy and some of the other boys to come closer to the beach and that he turned his back on them," Charles Butler, a friend of the Patient family, said.
The family is now pointing fingers at the treatment facility.
"I'm angry because I'm not sure they should have taken someone so new to the program out on an outing…I left my son with what I thought was capable hands and they turned their back on him," Rita Patient said.
Patient says Billy's father passed away and the teenager became depressed and started using drugs. She says they spent ten thousand dollars to send Billy to The Academy. They hoped the center would turn his life around.
"We want to know why this happened and we want to know why a facility that was charged with his safety not only did not keep him safe, but now we're finding out they don't even have a residence," Butler said.
Family members say they learned Billy was staying at a hotel with other teens from the center.
"For me to find out they were booking these kids two to a room at the Best Western…. that kinda says it all doesn't it," Joe Stewart, Billy's uncle said.
The Patients say they met with the CEO of The Academy on Tuesday, but they say they have more questions than answers.
"Their answers were at best evasive," Butler said.
The family says they are staying in town and hoping the boy is found. They also say they are launching their own investigation into what happened.
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