NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The survivor of a fatal hiking trip that killed a Westchester teenager is talking about how he survived.
A massive wave swept both boys into the water in Hawaii a week ago and there are still many questions about what happened.
Matthew Alzate, 15, said he doesn’t remember much from that day, but he knows kayak guide Ola Reed helped pull him from the dangerous surf.
Doctors at a Honolulu hospital put a bar and bolts into Matthew’s damaged right leg. He said he knows it could have been much worse.
“I’m a lot better than when I came in because, from what I heard, I was almost dead,” Alzate said.
On July 4, a huge wave carried Matthew and fellow camper, Tyler Madoff, of White Plains, into the sea off Hawaii. They were part of a teen adventure group called, “Bold Earth.” Tyler was swept away. Reed, who works for a kayak company, jumped in to help rescue Matthew, who was face-down in the water.
“It was just an unexplained event that happened, and literally, in that moment, you know, it was either a rise to the occasion or run away and hide,” Reed said.
Reed declined to answer questions about what “Bold Earth” counselors were doing at the time. The kayak company and “Bold Earth” are at odds over who decided to take the campers to that location. Tyler’s parents blame the tour leader.
“No way those teens should have been on shoreline at that time of day. There was a high surf warning,” said Michael Madoff, Tyler’s father.
As for Matthew, he said he’s trying to focus on his recovery.
“When I was walking down the stairs, I would take five steps and I would try to stop to catch my breath,” Matthew said.
Matthew Alzate’s father told a Westchester newspaper that he’s heard of the criticism from Tyler’s parents about the hiking trip. Jaime Alzate said he agrees with the Madoff family and he hopes to reach out to them soon.