Couple From California Suing Maui Company for $5 Million Over Alleged Abandonment in Ocean During Honeymoon Snorkeling Tour
Alexander Burckle and Elizabeth Webster, a couple from Hayward, California, are suing a Maui-based company for $5 million after they were allegedly abandoned in the ocean during their honeymoon snorkeling tour. The couple had booked a snorkel tour with Sail Maui and boarded a large catamaran to explore the nearby island of Lanai.
According to the lawsuit, the captain told everyone aboard that the boat would remain anchored in the location for an hour before sailing to the next spot. However, when the couple returned to the boat after snorkeling, the water had become choppy and the boat from Maui Sail Company was gone. The couple attempted to signal the boat and call for help, but the vessel had already moved on to its second location, leaving them stranded in the ocean.
After about 15 minutes of swimming, the couple realized that they “still had not made progress towards the boat” and were beginning to panic. They decided that their only option for survival was to return to shore and swam for 20 minutes until they reached the beach.
The couple was found by island residents who gave them water and let them use their phones to call Sail Maui. The company still had not realized that the couple was missing and arranged for a ferry to take them back to Maui.
The lawsuit accuses the crew of miscounting the passengers and claims that a crew member counted 44 passengers when everyone was walking around and not sitting still while they were counted. The couple’s attorney, Jared Washkowitz, told Insider that the tour company was disorganized and “didn’t give set boundaries,” identify a lifeguard, or ensure snorkelers used a buddy system.
Jessica Hebert, a Louisiana resident who was also on the tour, said, “It was just too disorganized. Everybody kept moving, so they easily got missed.”
The couple is suing for negligence and emotional distress, claiming that if they weren’t young and athletic, they “probably would’ve drowned.
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1. “Couple on honeymoon sue tour company for abandoning them in the sea on a snorkelling trip” The Independent, 6 Mar. 2023, https://www.independent.co.uk/travel/news-and-advice/hawaii-snorkelling-honeymoon-couple-sue-abandoned-b2294810.html
2. “Couple on Hawaii honeymoon says they were abandoned in the ocean by snorkeling tour group” Yahoo Life, 4 Mar. 2023, https://www.yahoo.com/lifestyle/couple-hawaii-honeymoon-says-were-231209801.html
3. “Bay Area Couple Sues After Allegedly Being Abandoned in Rough Waters on Snorkel Tour During Their Honeymoon” SFist, 5 Mar. 2023, https://sfist.com/2023/03/05/bay-area-couple-sues-after-allegedly-being-abandoned-in-rough-waters-on-snorkel-tour-during-their-honeymoon/
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6. “CA couple says snorkeling tour group left them behind in waters off Lanai” Hawaii News Now, 2 Mar. 2023, https://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/2023/03/02/couple-files-suit-alleging-maui-snorkeling-tour-company-left-them-behind-water/