A California couple honeymooning in Hawaii sued a snorkelling company for USD5 million after they were allegedly abandoned in the ocean for more than an hour. The couple claimed that they were compelled to swim to shore after a snorkelling tour group left them in the ocean.
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, NBC news reported.
In the lawsuit, the couple stated that 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. However, when the couple started returning to the boat about an hour later, the waters got turbulent, and the boat from Maui Sail Company was gone.
After they realized the boat had left, the couple tried to keep afloat and make distress signals, but they eventually ended up in even deeper, choppier water, New York Post reported.
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. By the time they reached the island, they were “fatigued and dehydrated”. They received help from a resident on the island, who gave them water and let them use their phones.
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