California Couple Sues Hawaii Snorkeling Company for $5 Million After Alleged Ocean Abandonment

A California couple is suing a Hawaii snorkeling company for $5 million after they allege they were abandoned in the ocean during their honeymoon.[0]

In September 2021, Elizabeth Webster and Alexander Burckle booked a snorkeling tour with Sail Maui while on their honeymoon.[1] The pair, both experienced snorkelers, purchased tickets for a tour to Lanai, a small island near Maui.[1]

The lawsuit states that the couple initially was snorkeling in waters that were tranquil and transparent, however the water eventually became choppier.[2] Attempting to swim to the boat, they found it had already left for its next destination, as per the complaint.[2]

Jared Washkowitz, the attorney for the couple, stated that the ordeal was “It was basically a traumatizing event where they thought they were going to die and they thought their spouse was going to die,” where the couple feared for their own lives and those of their spouse.[3]

Since the incident, Sail Maui has allegedly altered its head count protocols, however, due to the lawsuit being pending, the company chose to not comment.[4]

The couple was able to swim about 20 minutes to a deserted shoreline, where a pair of Lanai residents eventually found them as they drove by, the complaint said.[5]

The Coast Guard investigation into the incident revealed that an individual on the boat had alerted the crew that two people were still in the water, according to Washkowitz.[2]

Insider was informed by Jared Washkowitz, the lawyer of the couple, that the tour company had a lack of organization and “didn’t give set boundaries,” define a lifeguard, or ensure those snorkeling followed the buddy system.[0]

The complaint said the vessel left for the tour at 10 a.m. that day and arrived at the snorkeling site off east Lanai about 40 minutes later.[1]

The lawsuit stated that when the water became rougher, the couple attempted to return to the catamaran, yet it left without them.[1] According to Washkowitz, they had ventured a quarter to a half mile from the shore while in pursuit of the catamaran, making them more distant from the nearest land.[1]

It is claimed in the lawsuit that the crew failed to carry out an accurate head count and were unaware that Webster and Burckle were missing until the pair contacted the tour firm from Lanai.[5]

0. “Hawaii snorkeling company allegedly abandoned couple in the ocean” New York Post , 4 Mar. 2023,

1. “Couple says snorkeling tour boat left them nearly a half mile from shore” WTVG, 2 Mar. 2023,

2. “The lawyer for a newlywed couple who says a snorkeling company left them stranded in the ocean said staff ignored …” Yahoo News, 4 Mar. 2023,

3. “Couple allegedly abandoned in ocean by tour company on their honeymoon: ‘Drowning was imminent’” Moneycontrol, 5 Mar. 2023,

4. “Couple sues Hawaii snorkeling company for $5 million for abandoning them in the ocean” Yahoo News, 3 Mar. 2023,

5. “Couple abandoned in waters off Lanai when snorkeling tour group forgets about them” Boing Boing, 2 Mar. 2023,

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