Tree Falls At Camp Tawonga, Kills Counselor

A woman was killed today and several people were injured when a tree fell on Camp Tawonga near Yosemite National Park.

According to ABC, 21-year-old camp counselor Annais Rittenberg was killed when a tree fell outside the dining hall at Camp Tawonga. Four other adult staff members were injured in the incident. The children at the camp were inside the dining hall when the tree fell. None of the children were injured.

Camp Tawonga Executive Director Ken Kramarz said in a statement: “As our own hearts are still hurting, we send our sincerest condolences to her family and loved ones.”

Mercury News reports that the 70-foot black oak tree broke in half this morning and fell near the dining hall. Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Sgt. Jim Oliver said that there were no indications prior to the accident that would have warned counselors about the dangers of the tree.

Oliver said: “There was nothing to indicate there was anything wrong with this tree. Even to look at the existing tree trunk, there is still nothing wrong. Basically, it was a freak accident, as we can tell today.”

The Huffington Post reports that Camp Tawonga is a youth camp near Yosemite National Park for children between second and 12th grade. Kramarz said that the counselors were trying to keep the children busy and away from the scene of the accident.

Kramarz said: “The campers are doing well and are participating in camp activities away from the scene… Our on-site staff therapists are working closely with first responder grief experts to help care for our community in this difficult time.”

Rittenberg was an art instructor at the camp. She was also a student at UC Santra Cruz and a DJ for one of the school’s weekly radio shows.

Two of the other people injured when the tree fell at Camp Tawonga have been released from the hospital. The other two remain hospitalized but Officials at Doctors Medical Center in Modesto said that they were in good condition.