The Scarsdale community is in mourning this week for Tyler Madoff, a student at Scarsdale High School. Madoff, who recently completed his sophomore year, was on a kayaking and hiking trip on the Big Island in Hawaii with Bold Earth Expeditions. On Wednesday, July 4th he was exploring a tidal pool at Kealakekua Bay on the southwestern side of the island when he and another boy were swept out to sea by a large wave that was said to be at least six feet high. The other boy was picked up by a passing boat fifteen minutes later but Tyler disappeared, and despite a wide scale search, has still has not been found.
Madoff’s parents flew to Hawaii on July 6th and hired private boats to assist in the search that utilized boats, divers and helicopters. They returned home on Monday July 9th when the search was called to an end.
In a video on KHON, Madoff’s father called the boy “the best of your mother and the best of me,” and said the people from Bold Earth Expeditions showed “poor judgment and poor character” as they did not remain on site to assist with the search for their son. On July 10th, the Hawaii State Department of Land and Natural Resources said that the tour company who took the group on the trip, Hawaii Pack and Paddle, did not have a permit to take the group to the tidal pool. According to reports, Tyler was a strong swimmer, an avid rower and a football player and was one of the more athletic students in the group. The Madoff’s will not take action against Bold Earth, which is based in Colorado.
Tyler Madoff was a resident of White Plains but attended Scarsdale Schools where his mother, Marianne Madoff worked as the teacher-in-charge at the Heathcote Elementary School. A beloved member of the Heathcote School community, Ms. Madoff plans to move up to the Scarsdale Middle School next year where she will teach math in Fountain House. The family has two other children, Dylan age 16 and McKalyla age 7.
In a note to the school community, Scarsdale Superintendent Michael McGill said “our hearts go out to the Madoff family” and offered counseling for those in distress. Scarsdale-Edgemont Family Counseling Service is available and can be contacted directly.
Debbie Singer, a Heathcote mom said that "everyone in the community is shocked by what happened and devastated by the loss. Our thoughts are with the Madoff family." And rormer Heathcote PTA President Amy Frank added, “we are saddened by this unfortunate event and our hearts go out to Marianne Madoff and her family.”
Tyler Madoff participated in the youth program at the Pelham Community Rowing Association where some of his friends are headed to the nationals today and have already named their boat “Tyler” after the missing rower.
Tyler was well-liked by his classmates at Scarsdale High School, some of whom offered their recollections:
“Tyler was a great guy and a great athlete, but most of all he was a great friend. He was always there to talk to somebody whenever something was wrong. Just being around him could get things off your mind. He had a huge impact on my life and I know he had a large impact on my other friends’ lives” – Sam Kaplan
“Some people are inherently self-confident, self-respected, and self-assured; all of which are qualities that are not easily attained. Some people are gifted with the ability to believe in oneself, where nothing and no one can bring them down. But Tyler, had a greater and rarer gift. Tyler had the ability to make OTHER people feel good about themselves. Tyler was the epitome of compassion. If you wanted to complain about life with someone, he was the guy! Tyler was a LISTENER. Someone who actively understood everything you said and was determined to help. Regardless of Tyler’s outstanding musical, intellectual, and athletic talents, he was the type of man who remained humble as you boasted about your life achievements. Tyler was passionate about his many talents, but I believe the greatest of them all was his love for making other people happy. With Tyler as my inspiration, a new life-goal of mine is to emulate this talent. When making a difficult moral decision, I will think to myself, “What would Tyler do?” I will think about everything he listened to; everything he was humble about; everything he loved, and nothing he would hate; everything he gave, and nothing he would take. Tyler, thank you for being in my life and inspiring me to make myself better.
Wherever you are, you will always be in my heart.” – Eric Berman
“I remember I was sad one day cause I was having some problems and I didn't wanna talk to anyone at lunch. You know when you don't say anything and you're sad but you still want someone to notice even though you don't feel like talking. One person noticed that day and asked "everything okay bud?'' Tyler was that one person that noticed and cared to ask. Wherever you are right now bud, everything will be okay.” – Alex Benitez
“Even though I did not know Tyler too well I remember him being on my YMCA swim team , and being in the same lane as I was for a short period of time (which was the lane for the slower kids). Tyler quickly advanced out of that lane (which I stilled stayed in) and became a talented swimmer, and a leader. I hope people understand even in the slightest matter the amount of talent this kid had, and the amount of loss our community and future have had.” – DJ Holloway
“Tyler and I played football together for 4 years. He was an incredible person, always there to help, always encouraging, really did anything it took to be a good person, whether it was in football or just as a friend. He was an amazing athlete who really did work as hard as he could to help us all succeed.” – Frank Schwall
“Tyler was a really good kid. He loved to laugh and always had a smile on his face. He was the nicest kid.” – Zach Galst
“He was just a kid that affected everyone around him in a positive way. Always trying to make people feel better” – Jeff Leone
“Tyler was a truly incredible guy. One of the most compassionate, caring, friendly, and genuine guys I knew.” – Dan Needham
This article was written by Joanne Wallenstein with assistance from Brian Shabto.
Share your memories of Tyler in the comments section below.