Ann Wittenberg and her family. (The Canadian Press)

B.C. mom who died just before daughter’s wedding wanted family to be happy: twin

Ann Wittenberg was pulled into the ocean while on a surf board in Tofino last weekend

A mother of three who died just hours before her daughter’s wedding in Tofino would have wanted the celebration to go ahead, says her twin brother.

Pat Doyle said his sister, Ann Wittenberg, was floating on a surf board with her 21-year-old daughter, Rachel Emon, Sunday morning when a wave pulled them into the ocean.

The 52-year-old fought to save her daughter, but could not save herself, Doyle said in an interview on Thursday.

The RCMP said it received a report of a woman in distress at the popular Long Beach surf location on Sunday.

Bystanders managed to get her out of the water and administer first aid, but the woman did not survive, police said in a news release.

Doyle said Wittenberg had travelled to Vancouver Island from her home in Ottawa for the wedding of her 23-year-old daughter, Victoria Emon.

READ MORE: Woman who died in ocean accident near Tofino was in town for daughter’s wedding

The small, low-key ceremony went ahead Sunday despite the tragedy, Doyle said, noting that was exactly what Wittenberg would have wanted.

“My sister would have insisted that we celebrate,” he said.

Victoria Emon shared a number of emotional posts on Facebook, calling her mom a “beautiful inspiration” and saying Wittenberg had been excited to watch her get married.

“Just because I went ahead with it does not mean it was easy in any way,” she said in a post Tuesday. ”I loved her so much.”

Wittenberg was a newlywed herself, having eloped in Cuba about six weeks ago. No one in her family knew about the wedding ahead of time and only learned of the marriage when she posted a video on Facebook, Doyle said.

He described his sister, who was older by 17 minutes, as a “late-stage athlete” who loved taunting her 26-year-old son, Joshua Emon, with her muscles.

She was also the pillar of the family and was devoted to making her kids and loved ones happy, Doyle said.

“That was her absolute joy,” he said. “That’s what she was to our family. She was always a smile.”

READ MORE: Woman’s death near Tofino prompts warning about ‘unpredictable’ ocean

Now the family is gathering in the Ottawa area to mourn, though a full celebration of Wittenberg’s life will have to wait until her remains have been returned from B.C., Doyle said.

Everyone is emotional and distraught, but holding up, he said.

“Grief comes in waves. So you just have to let the wave go through you when it happens.”

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

More Central Okanagan firefighters help out around B.C.

Joe Rich and other regional district firefighters are lending a hand

Transit improvements underway in Kelowna’s Rutland neighbourhood

The final phase of work on transit exchange includes pushing Shepherd Road out to Rutland Road North

Kelowna Ribfest launch faces animal rights protest

Animal advocates draw attention to abuse suffered by factory farm pigs

UPDATE: Crews still working to contain the wildfire north of Okanagan Connector

Update: Aug. 15 9:23 p.m. The Gottfriedsen Mountain wildfire, which was sparked… Continue reading

New urban winery approved by West Kelowna Council

The new winery will be located in the industrial area

Updated: ‘Queen of Soul’ Aretha Franklin has died

Publicist Gwendolyn Quinn reports Franklin passed Thursday at 9:50 a.m. at her home in Detroit

Search for mudslide victim becomes recovery mission

Valerie Morris was swept away by a mudslide on Highway 99 near Cache Creek on August 11.

Osland to make LPGA Tour debut

Kelowna’s Megan Osland has earned an exemption into next week’s CP Women’s Open in Regina.

Snowy Mountain fire now held

The Snowy Mountain fire near Keremeos remains at 13,359 hectares in size

Shamrocks post split at Westerns

Senior C lacrosse championships

Tigers deal out awards

McIntosh marvellous minding net for MVP

Woman in custody after topless crane climb near Toronto waterfront

Toronto police have apprehend a woman who climbed crane cab near waterfront

A glimpse behind the fire lines

A Keremeos volunteer firefighter talks about what it was like to patrol the Snowy Mountain fire

‘Hot and dirty work:’ Commander describes fighting massive Ontario wildfire

Ontario has seen more than 1,000 forest fires so far this year, compared to 561 in all of 2017.

Most Read