HAYWARD, Calif. - A Hayward couple says they were left stranded in the ocean while snorkeling on their honeymoon. It happened in Maui about 18 months ago, and now they’ve filed a $5 million lawsuit against the tour boat company.
The attorney says it was a pretty scary situation for the newlyweds who realized that they’d been left behind. They survived, but the attorney says the couple believes their lives were put in danger.
"Once they realized the boat had left them, they were obviously distraught and upset, and they had no choice except to swim to the nearest land mass which was Lana’i," said attorney Jared Waskowitz, of JAW Legal in Hawaii.
Waskowitz says what should have been a great experience in Maui, turned into a nightmare for his clients Elizabeth Webster and Alexander Burckle.
While on their honeymoon in September 2021, the couple bought snorkeling tickets with Sail Maui. After about an hour in the water, they realized the boat was sailing away as they tried to swim towards it.
"There were no other boats in the area. All they could think to do was swim towards the closest land mass, so they did. It was shallow, but there were waves. They came up on the beach there, Lana’i. It’s kind of an abandoned beach. It’s not very populated. Nobody was on the beach," Waskowitz said.
Their attorney says once they reached Lana’i, they wrote S-O-S in the sand and waited. Fortunately, a local couple visiting the beach that day helped them call the tour boat company.
"One of the shocking things is that the vessel didn’t even know they were missing until that phone call," Waskowitz said.
Webster and Burckle have filed a $5 million lawsuit against Sail Maui for negligence.
Waskowitz says they had to swim a half mile to get back on land and if they didn’t know how to swim, the situation could have ended much worse.
"It’s not like it was their first time in the water, but I wouldn’t say they had that kind of open ocean swimming experience, especially at that spot. Apparently, they were in shape enough and could do enough to not drown," Waskowitz said.
Waskowitz says the company did refund the couple’s money and assisted them in getting back to Maui.
KTVU reached out to the tour boat company but didn’t hear back from them in time for this report.