Couple sues Hawaiian snorkeling company for $5 million, alleging it abandoned them in the ocean on their honeymoon


A stock image of a couple snorkeling in Hawaii.Getty Images

  • A couple is suing a Hawaiian snorkeling company for $5 million after they were abandoned in the ocean.

  • They were stranded up to half a mile away from land, the couple’s lawyer said.

  • The couple, who were in Maui for their honeymoon, feared they would drown, according to the lawsuit.

A Californian couple has filed a $5 million lawsuit against a Hawaiian tour company after they say they were abandoned in the ocean during a snorkeling excursion while on their honeymoon.

Elizabeth Webster and Alexander Burckle were honeymooning in Hawaii in September 2021 when they booked a snorkeling tour with Sail Maui, a tour company. The pair, both experience snorkelers, purchased tickets for a snorkeling tour to Lanai, a small island close to Maui.

According to the complaint, after the vessel arrived at the snorkeling site the captain told the group they would have an hour to explore before they would be moving to another location. Webster and Burckle said in the lawsuit that they were given no advice on a specific return time, how to get back to the boat, or what explicitly to do in case of an emergency.

At first, the pair was snorkeling in calm and clear waters, but the water became more turbulent, the lawsuit said. They tried to swim towards the boat but it had already begun departing for the next location, the complaint said.

The lawsuit claims that crew members performed three headcounts, but that other passengers later made statements saying that people were not made to sit or stay still for the roll call. “It was just too disorganized,” Jessica Herbert, who was also on the tour, told Hawaii News Now. “Everybody kept moving, so they easily got missed.”

The couple continued to swim and make distress signals, eventually ending up in deep, turbulent water, according to the lawsuit. “Plaintiffs were beginning to panic and were struggling to swim in the ocean conditions. They feared that drowning was imminent,” it added.

They eventually reached the shore of Lanai and were “fatigued and dehydrated,” according to the complaint. Webster wrote “HELP” and “SOS” in the sand, but no boats came to their rescue.

Eventually, local residents found them, allowed them to use their phones, and gave them water, per the complaint.

When Webster called Sail Maui, they apparently still hadn’t noticed that anyone had gone missing from the tour, the lawsuit said.

Sail Maui, which did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment, has since changed its protocol, according to the complaint.

The couple is seeking compensation for general damages for emotional distress.

Read the original article on Insider


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