A New York teenager’s family has filed a wrongful death and negligence lawsuit against the tour guides they say are responsible for his death.
Fifteen year old Tyler Madoff was in Hawaii and set out with a hiking tour group. He was swept out to sea from a tidal pool during the excursion, and since he has not turned up, is presumed dead. The family is holding the tour group responsible for his death, claiming the group acted negligently during the event. Specifically, the family is arguing that the group’s decision to leave the relative safety of a harbor area for the more dangerous terrain of a lava rock area bordering the open ocean is the core of the problem. The decision to leave the designated safe area was in spite of dangerous surf warnings that had been announced.
Other allegations were part of the suit as well. The family claims that according to witnesses, the tour leader did nothing to try and help Tyler. Further, the guide in question has a criminal history including marijuana possession. The tour guide group claims that it does background checks on its guides, so it is unclear how such an individual came to head up the expedition.
Abbott Wallis, the director of the group, says that he has not yet seen the lawsuit. Wallis maintains that the tour guides did attempt to help Tyler, but there was nothing they could do. He maintains that the loss of Tyler was a freak accident, not negligence.
“You had somebody who shouldn’t have been there, who took these kids off-permit to a dangerous area… and then ignored all of the conditions that existed on the water,” said Susan M. Karten, who is the attorney for the Madoff family. “This lawsuit will shine a light on how teen tour companies operate.”