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Guides talk of terrifying ordeal, tried to save teen lives

By Lara Yamada
Published On: Jul 11 2012 05:50:01 AM HST
Updated On: Jul 11 2012 07:10:08 AM HST

Adventure guides relive a day where one young man went missing, shattering one family.

CAPTAIN COOK, Hawaii -

Along with the crashing waves came flowing tears as adventure guides Letisha Mims and Nolan Keola Reed visited the spot, where barely a week ago, a day of fun turned tragic.

"We were staying a good 30 to 40 yards away from the cliff side being super safe," said Mims.

It was all part of a 3-week "Ultimate Hawaii Adventure Tour" for 15-year-old Tyler Madoff, from New York, and several other teens.

On July 4, Hawaii Pack and Paddle had provided the kayaks for a tour around Kealakekua Bay.

Mims said the group was walking along the rocks when all of a sudden:

"All I heard was a boom and when I looked up what I saw was a hand-shaped wave just comes over our heads," said Mims.

One massive wave, and then another dragged the group across the rocks.

"Right here is where I was holding the kids from getting swept down," said Reed pointing to a rock pond near the break line.

Both Mims and Reed said they held some, and pinned others, but right as Reed moved them to safety one teen was getting pulled over the rocks into the water.

"All I saw was Nolan flying off the cliff," said Mims.

As Reed jumped in to get that teen, Madoff was getting sucked down too, disappearing down a churning crevasse.

"I was yelling for help," said Reed.

Help finally came:  zodiacs, a fishing boat, and the Coast Guard.

Reed revived Matthew's lifeless body, then escorted him safely to shore.

Back where their ordeal started:

"I came back here to see the kids in a circle doing a prayer," said Reed.

The reality was sinking in.

Five teens stunned sat stunned but alive, knowing one more, Tyler Madoff, still lost at sea.

"We did the best that we could," said Mims.

The Madoff Family credits those guides for saving the lives of the other teens, but they are blaming the Colorado Company who organized the tour for its poor handling of the situation.

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