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Madoff’s parent grateful to community; angry with teen tour company

Michael and Marianne Madoff (Photo courtesy of Visionary Video)

Karin Stanton
Hawaii 24/7 Editor

Even as emergency crews continued searching Sunday for Tyler Madoff, his parents expressed their gratitude to those crews and the community.

During a press conference Sunday morning in Keauhou, they also were critical of the adventure tour company that sponsored the trip on which they sent their 15-year-old son.

Michael and Marianne Madoff arrived Friday on the Big Island, two days after Tyler and several other people were washed into the ocean while resting in a tidal pool near Kaawaloa lighthouse, on the northern shore of Kealakekua Bay

Tyler Madoff

One other teen – a 15-year-old from Florida – was injured. He was picked up by a private boat in the area and transported to Kona Community Hospital.

He remains in critical condition at The Queen’s Medical Center on Oahu.

The Madoffs, of White Plains, N.Y., said they appreciated the efforts of the Coast Guard, county Police Department, county Fire Department, kayak company Hawaii Pack and Paddle, Visitor Aloha Society of Hawaii, and members of the Big Island community.

“All of the locals who kayaked and walked the shoreline searching for our son, we thank you,” he said.

Madoff said the kindness and compassion of island residents will always be remembered.

The couple, however, expressed anger toward the owner and employees of Bold Earth Teen Adventures, a Colorado-based teen travel program.

“The people from Bold Earth have shown poor judgement and extremely poor character,” Michael Madoff said. “None of the Bold Earth people stayed on the site to continue the search for our son Tyler.”

Madoff said tour guide Andrew Mork told the couple he felt “traumatized by this terrible accident but that he was starting to feel a little better now.”

Madoff also said they found another employee to be “callous and rude.”

However, he said, the family has no plans to initiate legal action.

“We as a family have decided not to take action against the tour company that we entrusted our son with,” he said.

Bold Earth has not issued a statement concerning Tyler Madoff.

They also spoke directly to their son.

“Tyler Vaughn, we love you from the bottom of our hearts. You’re the best of your mother and you’re the best of me. You brought smiles and joy to everybody,” Michael Madoff said. “We will carry you in our hearts always. (Brother and sister) Dylan and McKayla love you and you will be with us forever.”

Tyler was described as an athletic teen who enjoyed swimming, rowing crew and playing football. He also was a musician.

His parents are returning to New York to be with their other two children – Dylan, 16, and McKayla, 7.

Volunteers with Visitor Aloha Society of Hawaii have been assisting the Madoffs while they are on the Big Island.

VASH spokeswoman Malia Louis said Tyler’s athleticism stood out in the group from the beginning.

“This is straight from the guide’s testimony: Of all the children there, he was certainly one of the more athletic and most comfortable in the water,” she said. “There were a series of waves. The condition for that particular area were calm … but there were high surf warnings and conditions forecast for the afternoon and evening.”

Louis also said the Madoffs want to ensure no other family endures such a loss.

“The family’s intention going forward is to focus their efforts on education and prevention so that other groups who find themselves in similar circumstances will be better equipped to handle the situation,” she said.

County rescue crews resumed the search Sunday and are expected to conduct searches again Monday for a final day. Fire Chief Darren Rosario approved extending the search beyond the standard three days.

The U.S. Coast Guard sent a helicopter and cutter to assist in the initial search and several private boats also joined in, but by Sunday the searched included 10 fire personnel.

Crews on Sunday conducted an aerial search from Keauhou to Hookena, stretching 4 miles offshore. Divers searched the area around Captain Cook Monument. And ground crews patrolled the shoreline north from the monument.

Ocean conditions have been rough all week and search crews again encountered high surf Sunday.

According to the Fire Department report issued Sunday, the incident now is considered a fatality.

7 Responses to “Madoff’s parent grateful to community; angry with teen tour company”

  1. Mike says:

    Of course the family is “angry” with the tour guide company…that way they can deflect the anger that would otherwise be directed toward themselves. In our “victim” mentality today it is always “somebodyelse’s fault”.

    I have sympathy toward anyone who loses a loved one to death, but death happens…it is one of the real risks that are stupidly and foolishly assumed by many. People allow their loved ones to engage in activities for which there is no measurement available for the amount of additional* risk the activity poses. These people sent a 15 year old to Hawaii and depended on others whom they didn’t know and didn’t control to make decisions their 15 year old’s life depended upon…and they now want to blame that group? Yeah…that just makes too much sense. Dad probably spent more time checking out the company behind a stock that he was buying than he spent checking out the company to whom he was trusting the life of his son. Probably spent more time buying a suit than trying to properly assess the risks his son was going to be facing. The number one killer of teen agers is stupidity…and it is not just the stupidity of the teenagers themselves. I know this first hand having been a stupid (but intelligent…they are not the same things…there are plenty of stupid smart people on this earth) teenager saved only by providence and pure-ass luck on more than one occassion. Sometimes the stupidity is on the part of those who should know better and aren’t teenagers. The result, regardless of the source of stupidity is the same…tragically.

    If there is something to be learned from observers of this tragedy is that the assumption of an unquantifiable amount of risk is gambling. It isn’t managing the risk…like the morons insist who let their 3 year old swim in the presence of sharks…it is whistling past the graveyard (a Tom Sawyer reference for those too young to have been exposed to Tom and Huck much), it is ignoring the downside because you WANT the upside. Here’s a rule of thumb…when you’ve got the choice to do or not do something, if the downside is death, there better be an unlimited upside. Sometimes “not getting to do something” is the best thing that could ever happen to a teenager. As the great philosopher Garth Brooks croons…”some of God’s greatest gifts, are unanswered prayers.”

    *Living requires that we take measured and calculated risks…this isn’t the same as assuming an unknown and unquantifiable amount of risk based on pure assumption. Responsible parents do not expose their children (and they are children until they are responsible for themselves) to unquantifiable risk of injury and death for anything but the most important reasons. If they do, whining, b*tching, and pointing fingers of blame is a crock of processed horse feed.

    • Jordan says:

      I am personally close to one of the Good Earth guides involved in the incident – I am looking up the stuff on the web which relates to their story…

      Thank you Mike for saying what needs to be said. I am disappointed at the lack of empathy that some people display; this incident will weigh on the hearts of the guides more than we can imagine. I understand the grief will never compare to the loss of a child, but these guides will be recall the accident daily for the rest of their lives. The accident will change their choice in career and reshape everything they encounter in their common day to day.

      You must love what you do if you are a guide that works with 15 year old teenagers. I can guarantee you that every one of the students on the trip respected their good-earth guides and cared for them as much as the guides cared back. I without a doubt know the good-earth guides would have traded places with the victim in a heartbeat.

      To begin to throw around blame like this is some ‘Casey Anthony trial’ is plain outright inhumane.

  2. Sonya Finkey says:

    Dear Madoff Family,

    We live on the Big Island. We prayed for his rescue and followed this report in the local news. Our hearts are anguished by this unthinkable, hurtful event. We wish to convey are deepest, deepest sorrow and condolences on the loss of your dear and fine young son. Dear parents, may the Lord God console and comfort you and give you peace, amen.

  3. Pamela says:

    To the loving parents of Tyler- My heart aches for you for the loss of your son.He sounded like a terrific young man in every way.I sure he was so proud to have loving parents like you. You were blessed to have had such a wonderful son- surround yourself with the wonderful memories you had with him . Please know you have parents that have cried hearing about this unbelievable tragedy- no parent should ever have to experience this!!- I send my love to you!

  4. Concerned says:

    To the poster, Mike, be”low”:
    You seemed to think you know much about this case, the people involved, and life in general, but your mind is so closed and cluttered that you really know very little about all. Sad for you.
    Since you seem to like to quote literature – For you, Mike:
    “When you judge another, you do not define them, you define yourself”. — Wayne Dyer.

    To the Madoff Family:
    You are right. The company(s) that took your child to that location on July 4th were negligent. It has been long known by the people living in that area that the location is dangerous (though it is in all the guide books) and that the day the teen group ventured there was a particularly rough day for the seas with “high sea and tide surge warnings” posted on all of the local weather stations and websites. The locals know not to go anywhere near that point when the seas are rough.
    How gracious of the Madoff parents to try to warn others about the dangers their son experienced in the midst of their own grief. Sincere sympathy for your loss and strength to move forward in your quest for justice.

  5. Jill says:

    I live in the village at Manini Beach, on the south side of Kealakekua Bay. News about the ‘high surf’ warnings on the radio and the news, the day before this incident.
    None of my neighbors who are familiar with the ocean in this area went out on the ocean that day. one woman ventured out early in the morning and returned shortly saying the ocean was too rough. I can not understand why any tour group would take a risk when there are so many other optional activities available. A tour leader assuming responsibility for a young group of teenagers should never have ventured out on the ocean that day.
    Every tour group is educated; that landing a kayak on Ka`awaloa Point is illegal. Sitting in a tide pool, especially with ones back to the ocean is not correct ocean knowledge. These youths were in jeopardy with this tour guide because it is always better to be cautious than sorry. My deepest condolences go out to the Madoff family.

  6. Mary says:

    Why didn’t he where a life jacket? Ocean waters are dangerous and everyone should of worn one. Everyone is acting like the kid was a toddler. He wasn’t a child and should of watched out for himself. Although the tour guide people should of made everyone where a life jacket regardless. Its both parties faults. The company should be shut down for that reason.


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