Coast Guard suspends search for teen swept out to sea

Photo of Tyler Madoff from the 2012 Scarsdale High School yearbook in Scarsdale, NY.
Photo of Tyler Madoff from the 2012 Scarsdale High School yearbook in Scarsdale, NY.

KEALAKEKUA BAY, HAWAII (HawaiiNewsNow) - There's still no sign of a missing teenager from New York who was swept out to sea off the Big Island. A massive search continues for 15-year-old Tyler Madoff who's here in Hawaii on an adventure vacation. Another teenager on the tour remains hospitalized in critical condition.

The Coast Guard, Hawaii County Fire, and some Good Samaritans have been searching the waters off Kealakekua bay since Wednesday afternoon. Rescuers have been blanketing more than 10 miles from shore to sea. The search area runs along the bay's rocky coastline - near the Kaawaloa lighthouse.

"He was seen drifting out by the hike, the members of the hike," says Lt. Leigh Cotterell of the U.S. Coast Guard. "They tried to rescue him, but they weren't successful."

Tyler was with a group of 11 other teens and two counselors Wednesday afternoon - taking a break on shore - during a kayak trip. They decided to cool off in some nearby tidepools near the Captain Cook monument. That's when, by all accounts, a large set of waves came in and swept Tyler - who's from White Plains, New York - and another 15 year old boy - from Florida - out to sea.

"They were hiking on the trail. They were 30 feet inside of the trail. A wave just came up and just picked this group up. Just a freak set. A tragedy," says Rufus Duarte, who witnessed the rescue efforts.

The owner of the kayak company, Hawaii Pack and Paddle, tells Hawaii News Now that his two certified guides jumped in to save the boys. They, along with a fishing boat, rescued the Florida teen – who was flown from the Big Island to Oahu and is now hospitalized in critical condition. Tyler, however, went missing.

"We heard the helicopters like all night long," says resident, Gary Dimond, of the search.The Coast Guard and HFD dispatched their helicopters, a cutter, and divers. Cotterell continues, "The drift models for the search object or person, the wind speed, currents, are all factored into creating that model that guides our searches."

Tyler reportedly came to Hawaii as part of Bold Earth - a high school summer adventure travel program.

The Coast Guard suspended its search at sunset Thursday. The fire department is still searching the area near Kealakekua Bay.

We'll have more information on this story as it becomes available.

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