A couple is suing a Hawaii tour company for $5 million after they say they were abandoned in the ocean while snorkeling on their honeymoon.

Alexander Burckle and Elizabeth Webster went on the snorkeling trip to Lanai, a small island near Maui, in September 2021.

Then the waters got turbulent, they said. Suddenly, the boat from Maui Sail Company was gone.

After they realized the boat had left, the couple tried to keep afloat and make distress signals, but they eventually ended up in even deeper, choppier water, according to court filings.

The newlyweds “were beginning to panic and were struggling to swim in the ocean conditions,” they said in the litigation. “They feared that drowning was imminent.”

However, the pair was eventually able to make it to the shore of Lanai. By the time they reached the island they were “fatigued and dehydrated,” according to the lawsuit.

Webster tried writing “SOS” and “Help” in the sand, but no boats came to their rescue, although local residents later found them, gave them water, and let them use their phones.

Webster later called Sail Maui, which did not notice that anyone had gone missing on the tour, according to the legal filing.

The couple “were beginning to panic and were struggling to swim in the ocean conditions.”
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Jared Washkowitz, the couple’s attorney, told Insider that the tour company was disorganized and “didn’t give set boundaries,” identify a lifeguard, or ensure snorkelers used a buddy system.

He also said the company conducted three headcounts, but still never realized the pair was missing until it was too late.

In the end, Washkowitz said the incident could have had a much more tragic ending.

“They spent a lot of time in the water and if they weren’t young, healthy people who were athletic,” Washkowitz said, “they probably would’ve drowned.”