Family Protests Death of Camp Tawonga Counselor

The family of 21-year old Annais Rittenberg picketed outside the San Francisco headquarters of Camp Tawonga, a popular local summer camp near Yosemite. The family called for new leadership. This month, an NBC Bay Area Investigation that revealed camp leaders may have ignored warnings from arborists several years before a tree fell, killing Annais, and injuring three other people

The NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit first reported on the records and testimony from arborists who said the camp was reluctant to prune or remove dangerous trees.

On July 3, 2013, an 80 foot tall oak tree fell on a part of the camp known as Downtown Tawonga.

Court documents show that three years before the tree fell, arborists recommended the camp prune and inspect the tree every 18 months. The family says camp leadership didn’t follow those recommendations. “We’re here to raise awareness about the full truth about what happened before, during, and after my sister was killed on the grounds of Camp Tawonga,” said Adam Rittenberg, Annais’ brother.

NBC Bay Area contacted Camp Tawonga numerous times for an interview, but never received a response. However, the camp posted a statement on its Facebook Page writing that it followed all recommendations regarding the oak tree that crushed Annais.

Records the camp provided to the court show the tree had not been inspected since 2010.

Camp Tawonga also wrote that it hired two new teams of arborists to inspect the trees before camp season starts in two weeks.

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