Parents of NY teen swept to sea want to endow rescuers


The parents of a New York teen swept out to sea during a Kealakekua Bay hiking and kayaking tour plan to use money from settling their wrongful death lawsuit to fund first responders who helped search for the boy.

Honolulu lawyers representing 15-year-old Tyler Madoff’s family said Thursday that his parents plan “substantial” endowments for the Hawaii County Fire Department and the Visitor Aloha Society of Hawaii.

Settlement terms with Bold Earth Teen Adventures and Hawaii Pack and Paddle are sealed.

Attorney Loretta Sheehan said the Madoffs want to show gratitude and find ways to make the teen tour industry safer. The fire department spent seven days searching for the 15-year-old but was unable to find his body.

“The Hawaii Fire Department personnel out of the Kailua Fire Station worked hard during that search for Tyler,” Hawaii County Fire Department Chief Darren Rosario told West Hawaii Today in a written statement. “Our hearts still go out to the family for their loss.”

He declined comment on the planned endowment Thursday, noting he had not spoken with the family.

The Madoffs also plan to endow the teen’s crew team at Scarsdale High School.

Attempts via phone and email to reach the Visitor Aloha Society of Hawaii, Hawaii Island, which assisted the family following the incident, were unsuccessful as of press time Thursday.

Madoff went missing about 3 p.m. July 4, 2012, when large waves swept him and another 15-year-old boy into the water near Kaawaloa lighthouse, which is located in a remote area on the northern edge of Kealakekua Bay. The boys were part of a Bold Earth Teen Adventures youth group visiting from New York taking part in a hiking and kayaking tour with Hawaii Pack and Paddle.

The only items found after Madoff went missing were two T-shirts and a blue rope, according to West Hawaii Today archives.

The second 15-year-old boy was picked up shortly after the incident by a passing boater. He was transported to Kona Community Hospital then flown to The Queen’s Medical Center on Oahu for further treatment.

The search for Madoff ended July 9, 2012. The family of the teen from White Plains, N.Y., subsequently filed a lawsuit in August 2012, claiming tour guides were negligent.

The Department of Land and Natural Resources in September 2012 revoked the permit for Hawaii Pack and Paddle.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.