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The parents of the Westchester teenager swept out to sea in Hawaii are both grieving and outraged. They say Tyler Madoff never had to die, and they want the group behind the adventure tour he was on to shoulder the blame. Ida Siegal reports.
Relatives, coaches and teachers stood before an expansive view of Long Island Sound on Thursday and remembered a 15-year-old from suburban New York who impressed his peers and his elders before
A crowd of about 500, mostly young people, assembled at a beachfront catering hall for a memorial service for Tyler Madoff of White Plains, who was on a hiking and kayaking trip when large waves swept him away July 4. Another hiker who was caught in the waves was rescued.
"He was hungry for a journey, hungry for adventure," said Scarsdale High School English teacher Rachel Warshowsky.
"I forget sometimes he was only 15," she added. "He made me see what the next generation is capable of."
Football coach Andy Verboys described Tyler as dedicated, humble and inspiring.
"His confidence allowed him to take chances in front of his friends," the coach said.
Tyler's father, Michael Madoff, addressed his late son and said, "You were truly a gift from heaven, a prince among men. ... Tyler, you are now our prince among the angels."
Clutching his daughter, Mykaela, and son, Dylan, Madoff said, "We are still a family of five. We will always be a family of five."
Tyler's mother, Marianne Madoff, who was born in France, said more relatives were gathering simultaneously at memorials in Paris and Brittany.
"Tyler has gone on a different journey and we must learn to live a different journey of our own," she said.
Her mother, Sue Jackson of Hackensack, N.J., described Tyler as "my H.M. grandbaby," meaning high-maintenance.
"He liked to he hugged, cuddled and sung to incessantly," she remembered.
Jackson said the family was "sadder, smaller, but then again immeasurably richer for having had Tyler in our midst."
Chemistry teacher Nelson DaSilva said Tyler was "the spirit of the class."
"We banged heads," he said, but Tyler succeeded and didn't hold grudges. DaSilva said the boy inspired him to end an old dispute with an neighbor.
As seabirds skimmed the water's surface behind him, Tyler's crew coach, Guy Monseair, praised Tyler's strength and attitude and said the Pelham Community Rowing Association had named a new boat the "Tyler." When new recruits ask about the boat's name through the decades, he said, "Tyler will inspire children who will never meet him."
"Tyler sucked the marrow out of every minute of every day," Monseair added.
Flying disc toys were distributed to mourners as they left. The yellow discs bore the name "Tyler" inside a blue heart.
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