Hawaii 24/7 Editor
Even as emergency crews continued searching Sunday for Tyler Madoff, his parents expressed their gratitude to those crews and the community.
During a press conference Sunday morning in Keauhou, they also were critical of the adventure tour company that sponsored the trip on which they sent their 15-year-old son.
Michael and Marianne Madoff arrived Friday on the Big Island, two days after Tyler and several other people were washed into the ocean while resting in a tidal pool near Kaawaloa lighthouse, on the northern shore of Kealakekua Bay
One other teen – a 15-year-old from Florida – was injured. He was picked up by a private boat in the area and transported to Kona Community Hospital.
He remains in critical condition at The Queen’s Medical Center on Oahu.
The Madoffs, of White Plains, N.Y., said they appreciated the efforts of the Coast Guard, county Police Department, county Fire Department, kayak company Hawaii Pack and Paddle, Visitor Aloha Society of Hawaii, and members of the Big Island community.
“All of the locals who kayaked and walked the shoreline searching for our son, we thank you,” he said.
Madoff said the kindness and compassion of island residents will always be remembered.
The couple, however, expressed anger toward the owner and employees of Bold Earth Teen Adventures, a Colorado-based teen travel program.
“The people from Bold Earth have shown poor judgement and extremely poor character,” Michael Madoff said. “None of the Bold Earth people stayed on the site to continue the search for our son Tyler.”
Madoff said tour guide Andrew Mork told the couple he felt “traumatized by this terrible accident but that he was starting to feel a little better now.”
Madoff also said they found another employee to be “callous and rude.”
However, he said, the family has no plans to initiate legal action.
“We as a family have decided not to take action against the tour company that we entrusted our son with,” he said.
Bold Earth has not issued a statement concerning Tyler Madoff.
They also spoke directly to their son.
“Tyler Vaughn, we love you from the bottom of our hearts. You’re the best of your mother and you’re the best of me. You brought smiles and joy to everybody,” Michael Madoff said. “We will carry you in our hearts always. (Brother and sister) Dylan and McKayla love you and you will be with us forever.”
Tyler was described as an athletic teen who enjoyed swimming, rowing crew and playing football. He also was a musician.
His parents are returning to New York to be with their other two children – Dylan, 16, and McKayla, 7.
Volunteers with Visitor Aloha Society of Hawaii have been assisting the Madoffs while they are on the Big Island.
VASH spokeswoman Malia Louis said Tyler’s athleticism stood out in the group from the beginning.
“This is straight from the guide’s testimony: Of all the children there, he was certainly one of the more athletic and most comfortable in the water,” she said. “There were a series of waves. The condition for that particular area were calm … but there were high surf warnings and conditions forecast for the afternoon and evening.”
Louis also said the Madoffs want to ensure no other family endures such a loss.
“The family’s intention going forward is to focus their efforts on education and prevention so that other groups who find themselves in similar circumstances will be better equipped to handle the situation,” she said.
County rescue crews resumed the search Sunday and are expected to conduct searches again Monday for a final day. Fire Chief Darren Rosario approved extending the search beyond the standard three days.
The U.S. Coast Guard sent a helicopter and cutter to assist in the initial search and several private boats also joined in, but by Sunday the searched included 10 fire personnel.
Crews on Sunday conducted an aerial search from Keauhou to Hookena, stretching 4 miles offshore. Divers searched the area around Captain Cook Monument. And ground crews patrolled the shoreline north from the monument.
Ocean conditions have been rough all week and search crews again encountered high surf Sunday.
According to the Fire Department report issued Sunday, the incident now is considered a fatality.