1 killed, 4 injured after tree falls on dining area at Camp Tawonga in Tuolumne Co.

2:52 AM, Jul 4, 2013   |    comments
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Tuolumne County, CA - One person was killed and four were injured Wednesday morning at Camp Tawonga in Tuolumne County after a tree crashed down on a campfire ring. The person killed and the four injured were camp staff members; no children were injured.

Watch Nick Mancelli's report on the accident above. News10 provided live updates on the story that you can review below.

UPDATE 7:34 p.m.: News10 interviewed the mother of Annais Rittenberg, who was killed when a tree crashed down on the dining area of Camp Tawonga. Rittenberg's mother, Penny Kreitzer, said her daughter, who attended U.C. Santa Cruz, planned a career based on her love of nature.

"She loved life, she loved nature, she loved people. She has so many friends," said Kreitzer. Watch the video here.

"This child was a life force and it was the most terrible tragedy. It was like, why didn't the damn tree fall on Saturday, when nobody was going to be at the camp," Kreitzer said.


UPDATE 6:05 p.m.: Click here for the latest on the victims from News10's Gabriel Roxas.

UPDATE 4:53 p.m.: A camp spokesperson said camp will remain in session. The spokesperson did not know if a memorial would be held for the staff member who was killed.

UPDATE 3:34 p.m.: Photos of Annais Rittenberg taken at University of California, Santa Cruz were added to the photo gallery at the top of this post. Rittenberg was killed when a tree crashed down on a campfire ring at Camp Tawonga.

UPDATE 3:24 p.m.: A spokesperson for Memorial Medical Center in Modesto says the patient brought to the hospital from Camp Tawonga is in good condition. He would not identify the patient; however, we know that camp staffer Cara Sheedy was taken to Memorial Medical Center.

UPDATE 2:39 p.m.: Camp Tawonga's executive director sent a letter to parents detailing the accident and how camp staff responded. You can read it here.

UPDATE 2:24 p.m.: We have received more information about the four Camp Tawonga staff members injured when a tree crashed down on the camp dining area. Elizabeth Moore is in good condition at Doctor's Medical Center in Modesto, while Anya Schultz and Juliet Ulibarri are being discharged from Sonora Regional Medical Center. Cara Sheedy is at Memorial Medical Center in Modesto; her condition was not immediately available.

UPDATE 2:03 p.m.: 21-year old Camp Tawonga art counselor Annais Rittenberg died when a tree crashed down on a campfire ring, according to a letter sent to parents by the camp's executive director.

Original story:

Emergency personnel responded to Camp Tawonga in Tuolumne County around 8:25 a.m. Wednesday morning after a tree crashed down on a campfire ring next to the dining area, injuring several people.

According to Sergeant Jim Oliver of the Tuolumne County Sheriff's Dept., four adult staff members were transported from the scene to area hospitals with injuries, contradicting earlier reports from Cal Fire that 20 people had been injured. 

No children were injured and all were accounted for, according to Oliver.

Public Information Officer, Gail Witzelsteiner of Sonora Regional Medical Center, later revealed the hospital received two female camp counselors, 21 and 22 years of age, suffering from back pain, bruises and possible fractures.

Spokesperson Jane Jergentz said Doctor's Medical Center in Modesto received one patient in good condition via air ambulance.

The fourth patient was recieved at Modesto Memorial Hospital via air ambulance, according to hospital spokesman Craig Baize. Baize did not elaborate on the person's age or condition.

According to the camp website, Camp Tawonga is a summer camp for young children and teens.

Return to this story for updates.


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