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Wrongful Death Suit Filed Against Kealakekua Tour Company

August 21, 2012, 5:54 PM HST
* Updated August 22, 9:43 AM
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The parents of a 15-year-old teen who was swept out to sea in West Hawaii on July 4 have filed a wrongful death lawsuit in federal court in Honolulu seeking unspecified punitive damages against two tour groups, including a Big Island kayaking company.

Marianne and Michael Madoff of White Plains, New York, claim the companies were reckless and negligent for leading a group of teens into an unsafe area after a morning kayaking excursion.

Tyler Madoff and a teen from Florida were swept out to sea when a group of 12 teens with Colorado-based Bold Earth Adventures — a summer high school adventure program — decided to rest from hiking near tide pools near the Captain Cook monument.

The group had been kayaking earlier in the day with Kealakekua-based Hawaii Pack and Paddle who was contracted by Bold Earth to provide tours to the group.

The Florida teen was rescued and later flown to Queen’s Medical Center in critical condition. Although Hawaii Fire Department and U.S. Coast Guard crews conducted an exhaustive search for Madoff, his body was never recovered and he is presumed dead.

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Madoff’s parents are claiming that both Bold Earth Adventures and Hawaii Pack and Paddle caused the death of their son with their “reckless and irresponsible decision” to lead the group from the “safety of the bay to the treacherous lava rock area,” according to the lawsuit.

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Four people are named in the suit – two from Bold Earth and two from Hawaii Pack and Paddle. The Madoff’s lawsuit also claims that one of the four named in the suit — Andy Mork, a group leader for Bold Earth — had a criminal background and that the company did not properly conduct background checks on staff.

Initially after his son was swept out to sea, Michael Madoff blamed Mork for his son’s death, telling a New York newspaper that “the final decision as to whether or not to continue to the shoreline rested with Andy Mork.”

Hawaii state officials have stated that Bold Earth Adventures did not have a permit to be in the tide pool area where the incident occurred.

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Although Bold Earth president Abbott Wallis could not be reached for comment for this article, he has told other media outlets that he blames Hawaii Pack and Paddle for the incident.

When contacted for comment the owner of Hawaii Pack and Paddle said, “We express our sorrow to the families of everyone involved and send our condolences to the Madoffs, but can not comment further due to litigation.”

Madoff’s parents plan to hold a press conference in Manhattan tomorrow to discuss the lawsuit.

 

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