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Parents of woman killed by fallen tree frustrated with camp

July 5, 2013 8:44:47 PM PDT
The parents of a young woman killed in a freak accident at a Sierra camp this week are upset at how the camp has handled her death. The parents of 21-year-old Annais Rittenberg say they heard nothing from Camp Tawonga's operators for two days.

"What is wrong with you people? Do you have no grace? Do you have no conscience? Do you have no empathy? Do you not feel anything? Why would you not contact her father," Annais's father, Mark Rittenberg, Ph.D, said.

Rittenberg is described by friends and loved ones as "full-of-life" and "vibrant." She was killed Wednesday when a large oak tree fell near the campfire at Camp Tawonga.

But it wasn't until after Annais's father fired off an angry email to the directors of Camp Tawonga that he finally got a response.

"It was explained to me, it was deemed a crime scene and they couldn't get the word out faster," Mark Rittenberg said.

It's an answer, both parents are finding hard to accept.

"It should not be necessary for a grieving father to be up at 5:30 in the morning and to write such an email," Rittenberg said.

Rittenberg says after words were exchanged and his frustration made clear, the camp directors reacted by allowing another counselor and friend of Annais' to escort her body back to the Bay Area.

"He volunteered and said, 'I don't want Annais to have to go on this journey by herself,'" Rittenberg said.

Now, as a father preparing to bury his only daughter, he's reminded of the memories he says he'll always keep.

"She left me a voice messages, just both messages are so beautiful, with 'Daddy, I love you so much. [Do] you know how much I love you?'" Rittenberg said.

Annais will be memorialized at the UC Berkeley Alumni House next Tuesday.

Annais Rittenberg's family is asking that donations in her name be made to www.sanwild.org and www.marinemammalcenter.org.


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