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

Delays on Highway 3 at Kootenay Pass

DriveBC reminding travellers the area is an active wildfire zone and warning of fallen debris.

Fernie SAR rescues injured mountain biker

On Monday evening, Fernie Search and Rescue (SAR) was tasked by BC… Continue reading

Fernie man builds 10-foot sign thanking fire responders

Ken Rawson built his “thank u” sign on Saturday as helicopters responded to fires in the Elk Valley

SAR volunteers thanked after series of emergencies

Incidents ranged from the search for a missing hiker to delivering evacuation alerts in nearby towns

Update: guard built at Coal Creek Road fire near Fernie

Seventeen firefighters and one helicopter working to contain Coal Creek FSR fire, east of Fernie

Social media, digital photography allow millennials to flock to birdwatching

More young people are flocking to birdwatching than ever, aided by social media, digital photography

‘Takes more courage to fail’: B.C. ultra-marathon swimmer reflects on cancelled try at record

Susan Simmons halted her swim from Victoria to Port Angeles and back because of hypothermia

Animals moved from B.C. Interior shelters to make way for pets displaced by wildfires

The Maple Ridge SPCA houses animals to make space for pets evacuated from B.C.’s burning interior.

$21.5 million medical pot plant to be built in B.C.

The facility is to be built in Princeton

Spokane man enlists 500,000+ box fans to blow wildfire smoke back to B.C.

Spokane man Caleb Moon says he’s had enough with smoky skies from B.C.’s forest fires blanketing his city

Feds agree to look at easing jury secrecy as part of review

At issue is a law that forbids jurors from talking about closed-door deliberations

Forest fuel work needed to slow wildfires, B.C. premier says

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan joins John Horgan for tour

Liberals unveil poverty plan with lofty goals, but no new spending

Government’s goal is to lift 2.1 million people out of poverty by 2030

PHOTOS: Prickly porcupine rescued after hitchhiking down Coquihalla Highway

BC Conservation Officer Service members were able to grab the porcupine and move it to safety

Most Read