Family of NY teen swept to sea in Hawaii file suit - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Family of NY teen swept to sea in Hawaii file suit

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

By Rick Daysog

The family of the New York teen swept out to sea while hiking on the Big Island has filed a wrongful death lawsuit.

The family also accused a Colorado tour operator of covering up the deadly conditions that led to 15-year-old Tyler Madoff's death.

Tour operators initially blamed a rogue wave when Madoff was swept to sea on July 4th.

But in the  lawsuit filed today, Susan Karten, an attorney for Madoff's family, said the companies -- Bold Earth Teen Adventures and Hawaii Pack and Paddle -- ignored high-surf warnings that day and recklessly placed Madoff and 11 other teens in harm's way.

"It sounded like a frightening, frightening situation for these kids. They were holding onto dear life on these jagged and crater-filled lava rocks," Karten said.

The lawsuit says guides steered the teens to a dangerous tidal pool where waves smashed them against the sharp rocks. One of the waves carried Madoff away to the sea and his body was never found.

Last month, the Madoff family traveled to Hawaii and leveled similar accusations of poor judgment.

"None of the Bold Earth people stayed on the site to continue the search for our son Tyler," father Michael Madoff said.

The suit also alleged one of the tour guides had a criminal history that included charges for disorderly conduct and marijuana possession. That's in spite of assurances from the company that it conducts thorough background checks.

Karten said that employee was the closest to Madoff but did nothing when the teen was being swept out to sea.

The employee, Andrew Mork of Wisconsin, could not be reached. Representatives from Bold Earth Teen Adventures also were not available.

The suit seeks unspecified damages. Karten said she hopes the lawsuit will prevent tragedies like this from happening again.

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