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1 Dead, 4 Hurt When Tree Falls At Summer Camp Near Yosemite

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Camp Tawonga Aerial

Camp Tawonga near Groveland in the Sierra foothills. (CBS)

SONORA (CBS SF) — A 21-year-old worker was killed and four others injured when a large oak tree fell at a summer camp near Yosemite National Park Wednesday morning.

Ken Kramarz, Executive Director of Camp Tawonga, released a statement Wednesday afternoon confirming that a camp staff member had been killed. She was identified as Annais Rittenberg.

Rittenberg was killed and four other staff members were hurt when a tree spontaneously fell at the campfire circle outside of a dining hall, said Kramarz. The staff members were hospitalized but “doing well.”

Rittenberg was about to enter her senior year at the University of California at Santa Cruz, school spokesman Guy Lasnier said. She was an environmental studies major affiliated with Porter College, he said.

She worked at the KZSC campus radio station, he said. Rittenberg started school in 2010 and was due to graduate next spring, he said.

According to Rittenberg’s Facebook page, she is from New York, where she attended Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School. She lists “counselor at Camp Tawonga” as one of her jobs on her online profile.

The campers were having breakfast inside the hall when the incident tree came down and no child was hurt, said Kramarz.

Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Office said emergency personnel responded to Camp Tawonga around 8:25 a.m. after reports of a fallen tree with injuries.

Two female camp counselors were transported to Sonora Regional Medical Center with minor injuries. One is a 20-year-old with injuries to both arms and the other is a 21-year-old with back pain, said Gail Witzlsteiner with Sonora Regional Medical Center.

Two other camp counselors were transported to Doctors Medical Center and Memorial Medical Center in Modesto, she said.

There are about 300 campers and 150 staff at the facility which offers sessions for students in 2nd grade through 10th grade. The camp is located on 160 acres in the community of Groveland in the Stanislaus National Forest. The camp describes itself as a leader in “Jewish camping.” Its offices are based in San Francisco.

A CalFire spokesman had originally reported up to 20 people had been injured, but the camp director confirmed only the four adult staff members.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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