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Camp Tawonga issues statement on deadly accident

Ken Kramarz, executive director of Camp Tawonga, has issued a statement about the falling tree that killed one staffer and injured four others:

 At 8:25 AM this morning, a tree spontaneously fell on the campfire circle outside the Dining Hall at Camp Tawonga, located on the Tuolumne River next to Yosemite National Park.   A beloved member of our staff, Annais Rittenberg, was killed in this terrible and tragic act of nature.  As our own hearts are still hurting, we send our sincerest condolences to her family and loved ones.

Four other adult staff were injured in the incident and were taken to local hospitals for treatment.  Juliet Ulibarri and Anya Schultz have been released and are on their way back to camp.  Lizzie Moore and Cara Sheedy are still receiving care.  We hope for a speedy and full recovery.

All our campers were inside the Dining Hall when the tree fell and none were hurt.  Our exceptional on-site staff of 160 trained and dedicated counselors, specialists, therapists and medical staff have done a wonderful job maintaining calm, staying focused on the children, and ensuring that they have a safe, loving, camp experience at Tawonga.

The families of all our campers have been contacted and informed that all the children are fine.  The current session of camp will conclude as planned and the next session of camp will begin on schedule with no interruptions of service and no changes in the schedule.

We commend the staff and first responders who reacted immediately and efficiently, with emergency rescue crews from Yosemite, Cal Fire, U.S. Forest Service, Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Office, and the Office of Emergency Services arriving within minutes of the tragedy. Their timely response was instrumental in maintaining calm and minimizing injuries after the accident. We are extremely grateful to our resilient and caring staff, who exemplified the Camp Tawonga spirit in this time of need.

We ask that the media show respect and restraint during this difficult time, and not attempt to contact camp staff, campers or family members.  We have already been inundated with calls and inquiries.  Our first priority continues to be the wellbeing of our campers and staff and we will update the community of all ensuing developments.

Camp Tawonga is an integral part of our closely-knit Bay Area community.  Since our founding in 1925, we have been privileged to host generations of campers who have grown up with the Tawonga spirit. We are so grateful to our alumni and community for the outpouring of support we have received.

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