Family Files Wrongful Death Lawsuit after Teenage Son Swept to Sea

by tylercook on September 29, 2012

Michael and Marianne Madoff have  filed a wrongful death lawsuit after their 15-year-old son was swept into the Pacific Ocean while on a guided hiking and kayaking tour in Hawaii on July 4. They allege that the tour guides were negligent for leading the group to a dangerous area. They also accuse the tour company of being “coldhearted” toward them as they were dealing with the loss of their son.

Teenagers Led to Dangerous Area

Tyler Madoff of White Plains, New York was part of a tour led by 22-year-old Andrew Mork. The group was hiking near the Captain Cook monument in Kealakekua Bay when they took a break near some tide pools. According to the lawsuit, Mork led the group to a section of volcanic rock near the ocean. The area was outside of the state-permitted area and marked with signs that warned of the dangerous surf conditions.

Matthew Alzate, 15, was in the tour group with Madoff and walking on the rocky area. According to the lawsuit, several of the teenagers on the tour began grasping rocks and holding on tightly as the waves began receding powerfully into the ocean. One wave was so powerful that it swept Madoff and Alzate off their feet and pulled them out toward the Pacific Ocean. The tour guides were able to pull Alzate to safety but were unable to rescue Madoff. Although dive teams conducted a search, Madoff’s body has not yet been recovered. He is presumed to be dead.

Parents Allege Tour Guide Put Teenagers’ Lives at Risk

Madoff’s parents filed a wrongful death lawsuit in Honolulu on Tuesday, August 21. In the suit, they allege that the tour guides deviated from the scheduled itinerary and put the teenagers’ lives at risk. Instead of following the schedule, the tour guides led the teenagers to a dangerous restricted area. They accuse Mork of failing to help save their son’s life.

The family has listed the Colorado-based Bold Earth Teen Adventures and Hawaii Pack and Paddle as defendants. Hawaii Pack and Paddle was a tour company that was subcontracted by Bold Earth to conduct the tour.

Abbott Wallis, the founder and president of Bold Earth, previously stated that Madoff’s death was a “freak accident” that could not have been predicted. He insisted that the tour guides did everything possible to search for Madoff.

Mork has Criminal History

Madoff’s parents also allege that Mork should not have been allowed to work as a team leader due to his criminal history. They allege that his past behavior includes marijuana possession and disorderly conduct, crimes that should have barred him from employment by Bold Earth. Bold Earth requires their tour guides to be subjected to background checks prior to hiring.

Madoff’s parents are seeking damages for the emotional distress they suffered as a result of their son’s death. They insist that they are not filing the lawsuit for monetary reasons. They are hoping that their lawsuit will shed some light on the practices of tour companies and prevent other children from being injured or killed on similar tours.


Jamie Lee is a blogger who likes to write on current issues. She believes it is important to seek help when faced with a case of injury or death.




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