A couple on their honeymoon in Hawaii are suing a tour operator who they allege left them in the water and returned to shore without them after a snorkelling trip.
Elizabeth Webster and her husband, Alexander Burckle, said they were abandoned in the water for an hour, and forced to swim half a mile back to shore.
The federal lawsuit said the couple were part of a 44-strong group travelling from Lahaina Harbor for Sail Maui's Lanai Coast snorkel tour in September 2021.
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NBC News reported that the group was scheduled to return to the harbour around 3pm, having left at around 10am.
The couple allege that the captain did not give a specific time everyone should be back on the boat after anchoring at a first location.
All the passengers were in the water at around 10.50am and the couple swam north as per the captain's orders.
The lawsuit said that passengers came and went from the boat ad hoc, as and when they pleased.
Around 11:50am Burckle and Webster started heading back to the boat but got into choppy waters, the lawsuit said.
They "still had not made progress towards the boat" after 15 minutes of swimming in the choppy water, it added.
"The water was choppy and Plaintiffs started swimming more aggressively towards the Vessel," the suit stated. "At approximately 12:20 p.m., after another 15 minutes (approx) of aggressive swimming, the Vessel was clearly farther from Plaintiffs than it was at the last time they had checked."
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The couple say they signalled that they needed help, calling out in the direction of the boat to no avail before it went on without them.
Despite being strong swimmers and experienced snorkelers, they struggled "to swim in the ocean conditions" when they tried to chase the boat, the suit said.
And despite being "extremely fearful and nervous" about it, they decided to swim back to shore when the boat was out of reach.
At around 1pm, they reached shore "dehydrated and fatigued," and were aided by a Good Samaritan.
The suit claimed that a passenger on the boat tried to tell a crew member that the duo had swum farther out in the ocean during the excursion, but the crew member allegedly told the passenger in response that the Burckles had made it back.
The document also accused the crew of miscounting everyone post snorkel.
The couple are suing for negligence and emotional distress. Sail Maui has been approached for comment.
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