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Hawaii Tour Company Eyed After Teen Swept Away to Sea

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By Deanne Katz, Esq. on July 10, 2012 9:45 AM

Missing teen Tyler Madoff was hiking in Hawaii as part of a summer program when he was swept into the ocean by an enormous wave. The 15-year-old from New York and 5 other teens were part of an excursion that took a turn for the worst.

The teens were resting at a tide pool 15 feet above sea level and far inland during a hike Wednesday according to CNN. Rogue waves swept in and took two of the teens out to sea and left the others clinging to the cliffs.

Now it appears the tour company didn't have a permit to be in the tide pool area where the incident happened, Hawaii officials said Monday.

Hawaii Pack and Paddle has a permit from the state Department of Land and Natural Resources to take kayaks to a specific spot in the bay and hike along a designated trail. But department spokeswoman Deborah Ward told the AP the tide pool area falls outside the area covered by the permit.

Five of the six teens were rescued, including one of the two swept out to sea. But Madoff wasn't found during the search that lasted five days.

The Madoffs do not plan to press charges against Bold Earth but they did issue a statement criticizing the company for not going after the teens during the incident.

The other teens were lucky that Hawaii Pack and Paddle guides were nearby.

They were also lucky that Good Samaritan laws encourage bystanders to help in emergency situations.

The Pack and Paddle employees were not part of the hike or related to the teens. They had no legal duty to rescue the victims. Still, once they chose to help they were protected from potential legal claims. Good Samaritan laws are designed to encourage citizens who want to help in emergencies but don't want a legal mess.

These laws protect citizen who lend a hand by shielding them from civil liability.

For people like the Pack and Paddle guides, that means time isn't wasted worrying about potential lawsuits. Instead, they can focus their efforts on helping victims in emergency situations.

Tyler Madoff's family returned to New York on Sunday when officials called off the rescue effort. They plan to put their energy into education and prevention so that teens in similar situations won't go missing, reports KHON 2.

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