Family of teen swept away at sea to promote tour industry safety

Tyler Madoff. Courtesy: The Madoff Family.

On July 4, 2012, 15-year-old Tyler Madoff was swept out to sea after receding waves dragged him out of a tide pool at Kealakekua Bay State Park.

Madoff was visiting Hawaii from New York on a Bold Earth Teen Adventure Tour.

Hawaii County Fire Department rescue crews searched for the teen for seven days.

“The Hawaii County Fire Department understood that these were parents that desperately needed to recover the body of their 15-year-old boy,” said Loretta Sheehan, attorney for the Madoff family.

Madoff’s body was never found.

“This was just a basic breakdown of the competence of the guides the violations of their own permits,” said Mark Davis, attorney for the Madoff family.

In a deposition conducted in Denver, guides admitted they were not properly trained.

“Did you ever study ocean conditions?” a woman asked.

“No ma’am,” said Andrew Mork, a Bold Earth Teen Adventures guide.

“Were you ever trained in ocean conditions?” a woman asked.

“No ma’am,” Mork said.

“There was a permit that said you couldn’t go some place and they violated it. They hired two guides from the mainland from this Colorado company who had virtually no experience with ocean conditions,” Davis said.

On Monday, the Madoffs reached a settlement in their wrongful death lawsuit against Bold Earth Teen Adventures and Hawaii Pack and Paddle.

While terms were sealed, the family’s attorneys shared what they intend to do with some of the money.

“They will be making a substantial financial endowment to the Hawaii County Fire Department’s Search and Rescue crew. They are extremely grateful and they want to see the good work that’s done by the fire department by the fire rescue to continue,” Sheehan said.

The Madoffs will also help fund a new initiative on Hawaii Island to help promote the safety of children who go on teen adventure tours.

Sheehan says parents need to understand the dangers that are out there.

“The Madoffs want to make sure that no parents ever have to go through what they’ve gone through,” Sheehan said.

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