US Couple Sues Hawaii Snorkelling Company For $5 Million For Abandoning Them In Ocean

US Couple Sues Hawaii Snorkelling Company For $5 Million For Abandoning Them In Ocean

Maui Sail Company has been sued for $5 million.(Unsplash/Rep image)

A couple honeymooning in Hawaii said that a snorkelling tour group abandoned them in the ocean for more than an hour, ultimately forcing them to swim back to the shore. 

According to NBC News, the incident took place in September 2021, when Elizabeth Webster and her husband, Alexander Burckle, went on a snorkelling trip to Lanai, a small island near Maui. In a federal lawsuit filed last month, the duo detailed their terrifying ordeal. They were among 44 passengers embarking for Sail Maui’s Lanai Coast snorkel tour. 

In their lawsuit, the couple stated the captain informed everyone abroad that the boat would remain anchored in the location for about an hour before moving on to the next location. Throughout the excursion, passengers returned to the boat at different times, the lawsuit said. However, when the couple started to make their way back to the boat about an hour later, the water started to get choppy and they started to swim more aggressively towards the boat. 

But after about 15 minutes of swimming, the couple realised that they “still had not made progress towards the boat”. “At approximately 12:20 p.m., after another 15 minutes (approx.) of aggressive swimming, the Vessel was clearly farther from Plaintiffs than it was at the last time they had checked,” the suit said. 

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According to New York Post, once the couple realised that the boat had left, they tried to keep afloat and make distress signals, but eventually ended up in even deeper, choppier water. The duo “were beginning to panic and were struggling to swim in the ocean conditions,” they said in their lawsuit. “They feared that drowning was imminent,” the suit added. 

However, the pair was eventually able to make it to the shore of Lanai. But the lawsuit noted that they were dehydrated and fatigued. They received help from a resident on the island, who gave them water and let them use their phones. 

Ms Webster then called the snorkelling company and tried to tell the crew that they had gone missing on the tour, but the crew member allegedly told the passenger that they had made it back. The lawsuit also accused the crew of miscounting everyone who had returned from snorkelling. It stated that the company conducted three headcounts, but still never realised that the pair was missing until it was too late. 

Now, Elizabeth Webster and her husband, Alexander Burckle, are suing the Maui Sail Company for $5 million for negligence and emotional distress. 

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