California Couple Sues Tour Company After Being Abandoned at Sea
An Oakland, CA couple has filed a lawsuit against a Hawaii-based tour company after they were left marooned in choppy waters off the coast of Hawaii during a snorkeling tour. The couple booked the experience with Maui Sail Company for Lanai, which is a tiny island near Maui, in September of 2021 for their honeymoon. The excursion quickly went sideways when the couple was allowed to swim in the ocean for an hour while their boat anchored. The couple was soon caught up in turbulent waters and were unable to make their way back to the boat. After 15 minutes of struggling to get back to the boat, they allege that the boat deserted them and the couple was made to swim a half a mile back to safety. In their lawsuit against Maui Sail, they allege that they believed that drowning was imminent. They allege that as they tried to stay afloat, their efforts led them into even more dangerous waters. The lawsuit alleges that the couple was facing waves up to 8 feet high. They eventually realized that swimming to the island of Lanai was the only way for them to survive. Eventually, the couple was able to make it to the shore of the island, but they were in bad shape when they arrived. They were severely dehydrated and exhausted.
The lawsuit alleges that the couple was eventually able to get in touch with the excursion company several hours after they had been abandoned. The lawsuit alleges that the excursion company admitted that they didn’t notice anyone was missing from the tour. They said that the first mate made three headcounts and twice recognized that there were two people missing from the tour. However, a third headcount revealed that all passengers were accounted for and so the ship took off without them. One passenger aboard the boat said that the crew assured passengers that everybody was aboard. This passenger claimed that the crew did not force passengers to remain in one place in order to get an accurate headcount. There were people moving around the deck which led to the inaccurate headcount on the third check.
Elements of negligence
An attorney representing the plaintiffs claims that the crew of the excursion company never gave the couple boundaries and didn’t warn them not to stray too far from the boat. Further, there was no lifeguard to help passengers in the waters and the crew made no efforts to coach the passengers on how to help one another if they got into trouble. The couple, who were experienced snorkelers, were caught up in the waves and washed outside of the boundaries where they were abandoned by the crew. An investigation by the Coast Guard blamed the ship’s captain for negligence.
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