WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - The families of Austin Stephanos and Perry Cohen were back in court Thursday to discuss the next steps when it comes to Austin's recovered iPhone.
Tequesta teenagers Austin Stephanos and Perry Cohen left for a fishing trip last July and have not been seen or heard from since. In March, their boat was recovered off the coast of Bermuda along with Austin's iPhone.
The families' attorneys told the judge Thursday they are now vetting other tech companies, DriveSavers based in California and VTO, in hopes that one of them can help get the phone to power on. The lawyers say a few firms have even reached out to them to offer their service.
“Until we start working on a device, there is hope," said Mike Cobb with DriveSavers, adding though that this phone will be a challenge. "This is a tremendous amount of time in salt water where that phone was corroding.”
Steve Watson with VTO says, "Our research shows that often time the data still exists on the chip even though the circuit board is severely damaged.”
Back in April, the judge issued an order to have the phone sent to Apple to see if the manufacturer could get the phone to work. However, the company exhausted all efforts and could not get the phone to turn on.
The lawyers say the phone is still in Apple's possession and they are waiting on a report.
The lawyers say the are hoping to reach an agreement as to which company and may need an official order from the court.
The parties also discussed an issue related to the Six Maritime report. Six Maritime was a company involved in the search for the boys.
However, Austin's family is saying that they have been denied access to the information in the report. Austin's family is asking for the report, saying they believe it was paid for by public GoFundMe funds.
Michael Pike, Austin's father's attorney, told the judge he does not see why the report should be protected from the parties since it is relative to the boys' disappearance.
Guy Rubin, the attorney for Perry's mom, says the Six Maritime report has nothing to do with the case that has been filed. He says the case in court is related only to the recovered iPhone and the boat which is why he has filed a protective order.
Rubin says they have offered to provide the information in the report to the other families on numerous occasions. He says FWC also has the information and included some of it in its investigation.
Rubin says he does not have information about what money was used to pay for the company, but does confirm the company was hired by Perry's family.
The parties will meet at a later date for a hearing on the report.
Attorneys Michael Pike and Gary Farmer say they are hopeful they can work out an agreement and say they are willing to agree to certain confidentiality provisions, but as the same time think the information should be made available.