One dead, four hurt after tree falls at camp near Groveland

naustin@modbee.comJuly 8, 2013 

— One staff member was killed and four injured at Camp Tawonga when a tree fell beside the camp dining hall Wednesday morning. The roughly 250 third- through ninth-grade campers were inside the hall eating breakfast and none were injured, officials said.

A letter from Executive Director Ken Kramarz sent to families and staff members says staff member Annais Rittenberg died and names Lizzie Moore, Cara Sheedy, Juliet Ulibarri and Anya Schultz as the four injured adults.

Two staff members had minor injuries at the camp east of Groveland. Sheedy was taken by air ambulance to Memorial Medical Center in Modesto. Her condition Wednesday evening was listed as good, spokesman Craig Baize said. Moore was transported to Doctors Medical Center and was listed in good condition, a hospital spokeswoman said.

The tree fell about 8:30 a.m., according to Dennis Mathisen, a California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokesman. One air ambulance arrived along with multiple rescue vehicles, he said.

By Wednesday afternoon, camp activities had resumed, keeping children away from the scene, Kramarz said. "Our on-site staff therapists are working closely with First Responder grief experts to help care for our community in this difficult time," the letter says.

Electrical service was interrupted when the tree hit a Pacific Gas & Electric Co. line, but the camp's emergency generators were working and repairs were under way by afternoon.

Camp Tawonga sits on the middle fork of the Tuoumne River on 160 acres in the Stanislaus National Forest. Wooden buildings nestle in a clearing among pines and oaks, about 10 miles up Mather Road from Groveland. The camp lies at 3,800 feet elevation, at the edge of Yosemite National Park.

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