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Attorney Michael Pike Argues To Send iPhone to Apple In the Case Of The Missing Teen Boaters – Sun-Sentinel

Sun-Sentinel Article Published on 4/30/2016

An iPhone recovered in last year’s at-sea disappearance of two Tequesta teens will be sent immediately to Apple in hopes the tech giant retrieves vital information from it, a judge ordered Friday afternoon.

“Good luck,” Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Gregory Keyser told the families of Perry Cohen and Austin Stephanos after finalizing a court order in which the cellphone will be shipped overnight to Apple by FedEx.

The chances of Apple being able to recover data, including any photographs that might be stored in the device, remain unclear. During the court hearing Friday, a lawyer described the phone, which didn’t have a protective case, as rusted and deteriorating because of its exposure to salt water.

The boys, 14, vanished while on a fishing trip off the Jupiter Inlet on July 24. Their families went to court to settle a disagreement over what should be done with Austin’s cellphone after its recovery. The phone was found on board the teens’ capsized boat, which was recovered March 18 about 100 miles off Bermuda’s coast by the Norwegian multipurpose supply vessel Edda Fjord.

It’s notable that the device is an iPhone 6.

When Apple began selling the newer model, some owners published videos online of the phone surviving extended periods of water submersion, finding it was water-resistant but not waterproof.

Wired, a technology magazine, reported last year that the iPhone 6 isn’t invincible, but thanks to a technique pioneered by Apple, it has a better shot at survival from water submersion than any previous generation of iPhone before it.

On Friday, the judge ordered that both boys’ families be given access to any forensics report prepared by Apple.

Blu Stephanos, Austin’s father, said he was pleased with how the nearly two-hour hearing went. “I think we accomplished what we wanted to accomplish today,” he said.

He sees Apple as the best company to inspect the phone because it made the phone.

“The way to look at it is, if you bought a Ford truck, where would you bring it to? A Ford dealership. If you buy a Lexus, you bring it to a Lexus dealership. This phone is going to go to Apple and I’m very happy with that,” Stephanos said.

After the wildlife commission concluded it had no right to hold onto the phone, it decided to provide the phone to the Stephanos’ family, an agency spokesperson said.

Friday’s emergency hearing was scheduled after Perry’s mother, Pamela Cohen, learned the iPhone had been handed over by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to Blu Stephanos.

Cohen had wanted the phone to stay with authorities for it to be analyzed by a third party. The phone was used by Perry the day before and possibly the day the teens vanished because Perry’s phone had been broken, said Cohen’s lawyer, Guy Rubin. The phone was used by Perry to communicate with his mom, Rubin said.

After Friday’s hearing, Cohen said she was pleased the judge will review the data.

Chuck Weber, a reporter for Sun Sentinel news partner WPEC-Ch. 12, contributed to this report.

asacasa@tribpub.com, 561-243-6607 or Twitter & Instagram @adamsacasa

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