Couple sues Hawaii snorkeling company for $5 million for abandoning them in the ocean

A California couple honeymooning in Hawaii has sued a snorkelling company for US$5 million after allegedly being left in the ocean for more than an hour. The couple claimed they were forced to swim when a snorkelling tour group abandoned them in the sea.

The incident happened in September 2021, when Elizabeth Webster and her husband, Alexander Berkeley, went on a snorkeling trip to Lanai, a small island near Maui. In a federal lawsuit filed last month, the two detailed their terrifying ordeal. NBC News reported that they were among 44 passengers embarked for Sail Maui’s Lanai Coast snorkel tour.

In the lawsuit, the couple said the captain informed everyone abroad that the boat would remain anchored at that location for about an hour before moving on to the next location. However, when the couple began to return to the boat about an hour later, the water became turbulent and the Maui Sail Company boat capsized.

When they realized the boat had drifted away, the couple tried to keep swimming and raise distress signals, but they eventually ended up in even deeper, choppy water, the New York Post reported.

“Both were beginning to panic and were struggling to swim in the rough sea conditions,” he said in his lawsuit. “He feared that sinking was imminent,” the suit added.

However, the pair were eventually able to make it to the shores of Lanai. By the time they reached the island, they were “exhausted and dehydrated”. He was helped by a resident of the island, who gave him water and let him use his phone.

Webster then called the snorkeling company and tried to tell the crew that they had gone missing on the tour, but the crew member allegedly told the passenger that they had made it back. The lawsuit also accused the crew of miscounting everyone who returned from snorkeling.

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