For days, rescuers have been searching for 15-year-old Tyler Madoff after he was swept away by a large wave on July 4. Madoff had traveled to Hawaii with a tour company that offers teen adventure trips.
Collaborative efforts of the U.S. Coast Guard, Police Department, county Fire Department, kayak company Hawaii Pack and Paddle, Visitor Aloha Society of Hawaii, and members of the Big Island community all helped search for the teen.
Local officials, at the request of the boy's parents, extended the standard 3-day search through Monday to search for the N.Y. teen.
Tyler Madoff had been traveling with Bold Earth Teen Adventures, a Colorado-based teen travel program, reported Hawaii 24/7. The group had been taking a rest from the hike they were on, and stopped at a tidal pool near Kaawaloa lighthouse, on the northern shore of Kealakekua Bay, when an unexpected 6-foot wave swept in and pulled several people out to sea.
"There were a series of waves. The condition for that particular area were calm...but there were high surf warnings and conditions forecast for the afternoon and evening," said Malia Louis, of the Visitor Aloha Society of Hawaii (VASH). Louis also noted Tyler’s athleticism stood out in the group, according to the tour guide.
"Of all the children there, he was certainly one of the more athletic and most comfortable in the water,” she said.
All who were swept by the wave were found except the N.Y. teen. One other teen, a 15-year-old from Florida, was reportedly found injured shortly after the wave and is in critical condition at The Queen’s Medical Center on Oahu.
Michael and Marianne Madoff, Tyler's parents, arrived in Hawaii on Friday, hiring two private boats to help search. During a Sunday press conference expressed their appreciation for the efforts of all who aided in the search for their son, however are angry with the tour company.
“All of the locals who kayaked and walked the shoreline searching for our son, we thank you,” Michael Madoff said.
"The people from Bold Earth have shown poor judgment and extremely poor character. None of the Bold Earth people stayed on the site to continue the search for our son Tyler," Madoff also said, reported KHON 2 News.
Hawaii 24/7 reported Madoff said tour guide Andrew Mork told the couple he felt “traumatized by this terrible accident but that he was starting to feel a little better now.”
The Associated Press is reporting the tour group purportedly did not have a permit to be in the specific tidal pool area where the group had been resting. The kayak tour, Hawaii Pack and Paddle, had a permit, but were reportedly outside the range of the area covered by the permit.
"The permit does not authorize walking to, or landing at, any other location within" Kealakekua State Park, Department of Land and Natural Resources spokesperson Deborah Ward said in an email Monday to The Associated Press.
“My heart goes out to the family,” Abbott Wallis, the founder Bold Earth said, reported Gannett News. “We believe that every single person did their absolute best in an unexpected freak natural disaster.” Wallis said four adults and about 10 teenage hikers searched for Tyler until nightfall.
The family, of White Plains, N.Y., returned home on Monday to join their other two children, age 16 and 7, after the search was called off.
“We just need to be with our family,” Michael Madoff said yesterday, reported Gannett News.
“Tyler Vaughn, we love you from the bottom of our hearts. You’re the best of your mother and you’re the best of me. You brought smiles and joy to everybody,” Tyler's father said. “We will carry you in our hearts always. (Brother and sister) Dylan and McKayla love you and you will be with us forever.”