Demonstration held in San Francisco for camp counselor killed near Yosemite

Wednesday, May 20, 2015
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Family and friends of a camp counselor killed by a falling tree near Yosemite in 2013 are holding a demonstration calling for the camp to admit responsibility for the 21-year-old's death.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The family and friends of a camp counselor killed by a falling tree are staging a demonstration in San Francisco. Annais Rittenberg was killed nearly two years ago at a camp near Yosemite National Park. Her family wants someone held accountable after all these years.

The group started demonstrating outside the Camp Tawonga officers in San Francisco on Wednesday morning. The 21-year-old's friends and relatives believe the camp was negligent. The camp, however, calls her death a freak accident.

The group plans to spend the day out there. Demonstrators want to see the camp leadership admit that they are responsible for her death and to resign.

Annais was working at the camp in July 2013 when a huge limb from an oak tree fell and crushed her to death. The family says they have evidence from recently settled lawsuits that show the camp ignored advice from tree trimmers and arborists. The camp denies those claims.

"I miss my beauty every single day," said Annais' father, Mark Rittenberg. "And I think what's motivating me almost two years since she was killed on July 3, 2013, is that Annais didn't have to die. Annais was killed because, in my view, of willful negligence."

Annais' brother, Adam Ritternberg, added, "What I want this community to do is to start asking questions. You can still love a place, you can still have great experiences at that place, but you have to ask questions, you have to look at evidence."

Camp Tawonga released a statement that said: "The trees are routinely inspected by certified arborists, and we have consistently followed recommendations for their maintenance and removal. In spite of this vigilance a tree did spontaneously fall."

The camp director tells ABC7 News that since Annais' death, they have hired two arborists that inspect every tree. She adds that she has no plans to resign and that the board voted to keep her in her job. She says the staff still grieves for Annais and that their hearts go out to her family.