Not even two weeks ago, Michael Madoff dropped his 15-year-old son off at the airport to leave for the ultimate summer vacation: three weeks of adventure – paddling, kayaking, hiking, the works – in Hawaii.
But that would be the last time he'd see him. Tyler Madoff's trip turned into a tragedy when he went missing at sea during a kayaking expedition July 4.
On Wednesday's Today
show, the teen's grieving parents remembered the moments that followed – the 2 a.m. phone when they heard "your son is lost," their flight from White Plains, N.Y., to Hawaii, the conversations to piece together what happened that day.
Michael Madoff said Andrew Mork "used poor judgment" when he allowed a dozen 14-and 15-year-olds on the Bold Earth Teen Adventures trip to follow two contracted guides from Hawaii Pack & Paddle off the west coast of the Big Island.
The group was hiking near the Captain Cook monument at Kealakekua Bay when they stopped at a tide pool. Waves swept away Madoff and another 15-year-old boy (who was rescued by a private boat).
"As we understand, there were high-surf advisories and warnings," Michael said. Mork's story wasn't consistent, he added, and the tour company "forgot to say they were sorry."
Hawaii officials said the group didn't have a permit to be in the tide pool area, the Associated Press
reports. No body has been found, but a memorial service in honor of Tyler is being planned, according to the local Journal News
For now, mother Marianne Madoff remembers her son: the captain of the crew team, a football player, a junior lifeguard.
"Matt, Tyler was amazing," she told Today
's Matt Lauer. "He was an amazing friend and amazing athlete."
She added, in tears: "We're here today because parents need to be aware of where they're sending their children."