Million dollar claim from American couple who were left in the ocean on a snorkeling trip | Abroad
An American couple are suing a travel agency for nearly five million euros for allegedly leaving them on the ocean on a snorkeling trip near Hawaii. The couple had to swim to shore alone and were found exhausted and dehydrated on the beach by an islander.
Elizabeth Webster and her husband Alexander Burckle honeymooned in Hawaii in September 2021, booking a snorkeling excursion with boat tour company Sail Maui. According to court documents held by BNC News the couple were part of a group of 44 passengers who left the port of Lahaina on the island of Maui at 10 a.m. for the excursion. They were to return there around 3:00 p.m.
According to the newlyweds, the captain of the boat told the passengers that the ship would be anchored at the first location for about an hour before sailing to the next location. The captain did not say exactly what time they were due back, the couple claim in court documents. Around 10:50 a.m., the 44 passengers jumped into the water. Webster and her husband, both experienced divers who had been to the island several times, swam north on the captain’s advice.
During the excursion, passengers returned to the boat at different times. Webster and Burckle decided to swim to the boat around 11:50 a.m. In the meantime, according to their account, the water had become “more choppy” and after about 15 minutes of swimming the couple realized that they had “still not made headway towards the boat”.
“The water was choppy and the plaintiffs began swimming towards the vessel with increased force,” he said. BNC News based on papers. “Around 12:20 p.m., after another fifteen minutes of aggressive swimming, the boat was clearly farther from the complainants than when they had last looked.”
Although crew members reportedly counted three times the number of heads on board, according to passengers present, they were not asked to stand still during the counting process. “It was too disorganized. Everyone kept moving, so someone could easily be missed,” said Jessica Hebert, who was also on the excursion. Hawaii News Now.
“Our facts show they did a count, they missed two people, they repeated the count and they missed two more people,” the couple’s attorney said. Initiated. A passenger allegedly remarked to the crew that he had seen the couple diving further, but according to the crew, this couple had “already returned”. On the third count, there appeared to be 44 people on board and the ship then departed for the second location.
Meanwhile, Webster and Burckle attempted to swim in the same direction as the boat, but the seas continued to rise, according to the newspapers. They panicked. “The plaintiffs realized the ship had left them and would not return, and they decided their only option to survive was to return to shore,” the court documents say. “The complainants were extremely anxious and nervous about this decision as they were specifically told in the safety briefing not to swim to the island and there were shallow reefs in the area.”
The pair reached shore after swimming about half a mile around 1 p.m. and were helped by an islander who found them dehydrated and exhausted. Both are seeking damages for “general damages and emotional distress”.
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