HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Michael and Marianne Madoff appeared on the Today show to lament the loss of their fifteen-year-old son, Tyler, and to blast the Bold Earth tour guide they feel is responsible for the accident that swept him out to sea.
"Andrew Mork used poor judgement, bringing these 12 teenagers to the shoreline," Michael Madoff said. "He's the lead guide. It's ultimately his decision."
Madoff said Mork ignored a warning from Hawaii Pack and Paddle guide Ola Reed. The Big Island company was contracted by Bold Earth to lead the July 4 tour to Kealakekua Bay.
"He suggested to Andy Mork to make camp because the swells and surges were too high," Madoff said. "As we understand it, there were high surf advisories and warnings and Andy Mork decided to continue on."
When the group stopped to rest at a tide pool near the Captain Cook monument, they were hit by high surf. Tyler was swept away.
"When I found Andy Mork on the beach to look him in the eye and discuss what happened, he lied to me," Madoff said.
After the Today show interview, Bold Earth founder Abbott Wallis fired back, saying the Madoffs are misinformed and are being misled by Hawaii Pack and Paddle.
In a written statement he said Hawaii Pack and Paddle "specifically suggested a hike to that location. HPP's lead guide then led our kids and our staff into the area where the waves struck."
Marianne Madoff told Today's Matt Lauer that Wallis called them after Tyler could not be found.
"He just said you're son is lost. And when I asked him what that meant, he said there was an accident," she said.
Michael Madoff claims Mork first told him he was five feet from Tyler before the wave carried him off, but then changed the story.
"He told me that he was 20 feet from my son, and this young man Ola was the one close to my son," he said.
The Madoffs said they're considering suing Bold Earth.