I'm sending this note while still away from the office to offer comfort and strength to all of us. Even if you don't have a child at Camp Tawonga, you've likely already heard that a tree fell near the dining hall, injuring some staff members and killing one staff member. There are Netivot Shalom families at Tawonga, and we have learned that no children were hurt. All our hearts are in shock, and I share below the note from Ken Kramarz, executive director at Tawonga, so that we can know the most accurate information (as there are many false reports flying at the moment).
Please do not hesitate to reach out to anyone at shul, including CNS Rabbinic Intern Josh
Buchin, me (339-206-2283), and especially each other. We are, at heart, a community of heart. We are here to support each other, and this is one of those moments.
May the memory of Annais Rittenburg z"l be a blessing, and may everyone effected by this tragedy heal speedily and fully.
Annais Rittenberg, a beloved member of the Camp Tawonga staff, died this morning when a tree spontaneously fell at the campfire circle outside of the dining hall.
Four other adult staff were injured and taken to local hospitals and are all doing well: Lizzie Moore, Cara Sheedy, Juliet Ulibarri, and Anya Schultz. All of their families have been contacted.
The campers were inside the Dining Hall having breakfast when the incident occurred and no child was injured. Emergency responders arrived within minutes, coming from Yosemite, Cal Fire, U.S. Forest Service, Tuolumne County Sheriff's Office, and the Office of Emergency Services.
Camp Director Jamie Simon immediately engaged our own Incident Command System to ensure that our children and staff remain safe, both physically and emotionally. The campers are doing well and are participating in camp activities away from the scene. Our on-site staff therapists are working closely with First Responder grief experts to help care for our community in this difficult time.
Part of the falling tree struck a PG&E power line, temporarily interrupting some of our electrical service. Repairs are currently underway and our generators are providing all necessary power.
This information has been verified by the Tuolumne County Sheriff's Office. You may hear other reports, by media or rumor, but rest assured that this is a true and accurate report.
We will send you an email update by 6:00 PM this evening with further information. Please help us continue to remain focused on the children by not calling or emailing us at this time.