Falling tree kills counselor at CA summer camp

(JTA) — A tree fell outside a dining hall at a Jewish summer camp in Northern California, killing one staffer and requiring four others to be airlifted to a nearby hospital.

Ken Kramarz, the executive director of Camp Tawonga, issued a statement Wednesday confirming the staffer killed in the accident was Annais Rittenberg. According to Kramarz, two staffers, Juliet Ulibarri and Anya Schultz, had been released from the hospital and were on their way back to camp. Two others, Lizzie Moore and Cara Sheedy, were still receiving care.

No campers were injured, Kramarz said.

Founded in 1925, Camp Tawonga is located near Yosemite National Park and headquartered in San Francisco.

“At 8:25 AM this morning, a tree spontaneously fell on the campfire circle outside the Dining Hall at Camp Tawonga,” Kramarz said. “All our campers were inside the Dining Hall when the tree fell and none were hurt.

“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,” Kramarz added. “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.”

In response to the tragedy, Marsha Hurwitz, the chief operating officer of the San Francisco Jewish Community Federation, issued a statement saying that “our hearts go out to the children, staff, and families involved.”

“Camp Tawonga is a vital part of our Bay Area Jewish community, and we are profoundly saddened and shocked by this tragedy,” Hurwitz said. “We have offered whatever assistance we can provide to the camp, its families, and staff in responding to today’s events.”

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