Mother dies in Vancouver Island surfing accident hours before daughter's wedding

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      A mother visiting Vancouver Island died during an accident in the ocean hours before her daughter's wedding.

      On May 20, Tofino RCMP were alerted around 10:30 a.m. about a woman in distress in the ocean at Long Beach in Pacific Rim National Park.

      Bystanders pulled the 52-year-old woman from the waters and gave her CPR but she could not be resuscitated.

      RCMP does not suspect foul play and the case is under investigation by the B.C. Coroners Service. 

      According to news reports, Ann Wittenberg had flown from Ottawa to visit the B.C. town for her daughter's wedding but died in the surfing accident before the ceremony was scheduled to take place in the afternoon.

      Tofino RCMP are reminding visitors to educate themselves about potential risks involved before participating in ocean-based recreational activities as waves and currents can be unpredictable.

      Another death in the same area occurred earlier this year. 

      On February 10, Tofino RCMP and the Tofino Coast Guard responded to a call about a surfing accident at Lovekin Rock on Longbeach. A University of Victoria PhD student from India in his 20s, Nijin John, was retrieved from the waters but he did not survive.

      The two deaths have revived calls to reopen a lifeguard tower at Long Beach, which was closed by Parks Canada in 2012 during budget cuts.

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