Have you heard about the Hawaii tour company that’s being sued for $5 million? Apparently, a couple claims they were left stranded in the ocean during one of the company’s snorkeling trips. Elizabeth Webster and Alexander Burckle, from Oakland, California, booked the experience with Maui Sail Company for their honeymoon in September of 2021. They went on the 10am trip with 42 other passengers and were told that the boat would anchor for an hour while they swam into the ocean. However, the couple got caught up in turbulent water and were unable to make their way back to the boat. The boat later deserted them and the pair were left to swim half a mile back to safety.
Fortunately, the couple managed to get to the shore of the island but were in bad shape, claiming in the suit they were ‘fatigued and dehydrated’. They wrote ‘SOS’ and ‘HELP’ on the island sand to get attention for rescue. They were later found and given water and the use of phones by local Lanai residents. When Webster got in touch with Sail Maui at around 1:15 pm, three hours after they’d gone missing, they admitted they did not realize anyone was missing from the tour.
According to the lawsuit, there was negligence on the part of the captain and that the company had since revised its procedures to require vocal contact with each passenger. The couple’s attorney also claims that they weren’t given boundaries and didn’t identify a lifeguard or any kind of system for the tourists to help one another. Imagine if they weren’t young, healthy people who were athletic – they might have drowned.
Let this be a lesson to all tour companies – make sure your passengers have proper safety equipment and that your staff is vigilant in keeping track of everyone. The safety of your customers should never be compromised.
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