Why a California couple is suing a Hawaiian tour company after snorkeling incident
The newlyweds claim the tour company abandoned them in the middle of the ocean, leaving them to swim a half mile to land against currents
A newlywed couple claim they did not have a very magical honeymoon snorkeling experience in 2021.
Elizabeth Webster and her husband, Alexander Burckle, are suing a tour company in Hawaii for $5 million, claiming the boat left the couple in the middle of the ocean while they were out snorkeling with the tour group.
What happened with California couple snorkeling in Hawaii?
The incident happened in September 2021 when they were on a snorkeling excursion with Sail Maui, a boat tour company. A group of 44 was sailing from the Lahaina Harbor and was scheduled to come back to the harbor around 3 p.m., according to court documents NBC News reviewed.
While the couple were snorkeling, they tried to swim back to the boat around 11:50 a.m., but they noticed they were not making any “progress towards the boat.” They started “swimming more aggressively towards the Vessel,” according to the lawsuit, per NBC News.
When they realized the boat had left, they started swimming to the island of Lana’i.
“Once they realized the boat had left them, they were obviously distraught and upset, and they had no choice except to swim to the nearest land mass which was Lana’i,” attorney Jared Waskowitz told KTVU.
How did they get back to land?
The island was fairly empty, but after writing S.O.S. in the sand, a local couple saw them and let them call the tour company from their phones. The tour company didn’t know they were missing until they received the call from them.
The boat from Sail Maui picked them up and got them back to Maui and refunded the money. The company has not made a statement about the incident or responded to requests from comments from media outlets yet.
According to the lawsuit, crews did three head counts, with the last one turning up that all passengers were on board, so the boat sailed to the next destination.
Webster and Burckle ended up swimming a half mile to safety and are experienced snorkelers, but they did mention feeling “fatigued and dehydrated,” per USA Today.
“The emotional distress is in the moment, not knowing you’re going to live or die. And it’s not just you out there, it’s your newlywed spouse too,” Washkowitz told USA Today.
The initial hearing for the complaint in court will be on April 24.