Search Called Off For Teen Missing Off Kona Coast

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After five days of intensive searching, the Hawaii Fire Department on Monday called off efforts to find a New York teenager swept last week into the ocean off the South Kona coast.

Tyler Madof, 15, of White Plains was taking part in a youth group tour on Independence Day when a series of large waves swept him and another teen into the waters of Kealakekua Bay near the Ka`awaloa Lighthouse.

Teams spent five days systematically combing the shoreline, searching from the air and diving hundreds of feet below the ocean’s surface but found no trace of the missing teen.

On Monday, a crew aboard  the county’s Chopper 1 searched along the coast five miles north and 10 miles south of the incident site.

Water conditions were the calmest since Wednesday and county divers were able to enter underwater caves which were inaccessible on previous days, Capt. Todd Vincent of the Kailua-Kona fire station said in a statement Monday night.


Ground crews Monday again searched the coastline more than a mile north of the Captain Cook monument, which was the last location that Madoff was seen.

Such searches usually last only three days, but Big Island Fire Chief Darren Rosario ordered this one to continue for an additional two.

A Coast Guard helicopter assisted in the first two days of the search, covering an area of roughly 40 square miles off the South Kona coast.

Madoff was reportedly taking part in a combination hiking and kayaking tour organized by Bold Earth Teen Adventures, a Colorado-based firm which since 1976 has taken more than 12,000 students on adventure travels on six continents.


Speaking at a press conference at a Kona resort over the weekend, Madoff’s parents were critical of Bold Earth, saying that the guides showed “poor judgment” in the incident in which at least two of the tour’s participants were swept into the ocean.

The Associated Press is reporting that while Hawaii Pack and Paddle, a Kona-based company assisting in the tour, had a permit to take kayaks to certain areas of Kealakekua Bay and hike on a designated trail, the permit did not cover the tide pool area where the incident occurred.

The owner of Hawaii Pack and Paddle disputed that, saying that his company was operating in a permitted area, AP said.

At the press conference, Madoff’s parents said they were not considering legal action against the tour companies at this time.


Madoff was a junior at Scarsdale High School in Westchester County where he played outside linebacker for the varsity football team. He was also a standout for the Pelham Community Rowing Association.

Tyler’s father, Michael, told reporters at the weekend press conference that he was grateful for the “kindness and compassion and tireless efforts” of the searchers.

The other teen swept into the ocean with Madoff, a 15-year-old from Florida, was rescued by the tour guides and is recovering in a Honolulu hospital.


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