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Teen injured at Calif. camp heard crack, screaming

Published on NewsOK Modified: July 4, 2013 at 7:28 pm •  Published: July 4, 2013
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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — One moment 18-year-old Lizzie Moore was eating pancakes and talking to fellow staff at a summer camp near Yosemite National Park. The next she heard a cracking sound and screams and looked up to see the top of a tree coming crashing toward her.

"If I hadn't moved, I don't think I'd be able to speak to you right now'" Moore said on Thursday from her hospital room in Modesto.

Moore was pinned by a branch and suffered five broken ribs and a fractured elbow and vertebrae when about 40 feet of a large, 53-inch diameter black oak tree snapped off on Wednesday morning at Camp Tawonga near Groveland, Calif.

The falling tree top killed 21-year-old camp art counselor Annais Rittenberg and injured Moore and three others.

Two of the injured adults were treated and released. A third, Cara Sheedy, was in good condition at another hospital in Modesto, a nursing supervisor said.

No children were harmed. They were inside a nearby dining hall having breakfast. The tree took down power lines, but did not damage any buildings.

Moore said she had heard shotguns in the distance at the camp before, but nothing like the cracking noise of the tree.

"At first I was really not sure at all what was happening," she said. "I heard some commotion, some screaming and then I ended up seeing the top of the tree moving around a lot, and then I saw it fall."

She was knocked unconscious and said she does not remember much of what happened afterward.

The tree snapped about 32 feet from the ground, according to Tuolumne County Sheriff's spokesman Sgt. James Oliver.

Oliver said sheriff's officials don't plan any further investigation into what caused the tree to fall. Because of the nearby power lines, authorities said Pacific Gas & Electric Co. was responsible for annual inspections of the oak tree.

PG&E officials who looked at the tree's stump on Wednesday said the tree showed no obvious signs of rotting or disease, Oliver said. Weather also did not appear to be a factor.

PG&E last inspected the area where the tree fell in December 2012, spokesman Brian Swanson said. During such inspections, the utility looks for tree limbs growing close to power lines and obvious signs of decay or defects in trees around them.

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