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

Group raising money to stop Parksville supportive housing project

GoFundMe page has $15.2 K for lawyer fees raised since July 8

Hot stretch leaving Parksville Qualicum Beach homeless in need

Manna looks for water, sunscreen donations

District 69 athletes to compete at BC Summer Games

Opening ceremony aims to inspire, delight and entertain

Cycle of Life Tour seeks donations for hospice society

Riders will cycle 200 km to help keep hospice care in motion

Regional trails closed due to fire hazard

The Regional District of Nanaimo is closing trails within its jurisdictions effective… Continue reading

VIDEO: Skydivers land at Beach Day in Qualicum Beach

Sandy arrival one of various attractions at annual event July 15

After cave rescue, soccer boys pray for protection at Thai temple

On Wednesday evening, the boys and coach were released from hospital

Gymnastics sex abuse victims join hands, accept courage award at ESPYs

The women who spoke out against the abuse by Larry Nassar stood together Wednesday night

Wildfires erupt in B.C. Okanagan forcing evacuation orders and a highway closure

Check out a list of up-to-date information on blazes happening within the Kamloops Wildfire Centre.

‘Amazing Race Canada’ competitors face B.C. challenge

They drove Corvettes, mastered falconry basics, and ate blueberry pie in the Cowichan Valley

Grizzly bear jumps in river, chases B.C. kayaker

The bear got a bit too close for comfort along the Elaho River near Squamish

Island man convicted of 1999 sex assault at Fraser Valley music festival

James Allen Redden, formerly of Nanaimo, was found guilty of three charges

Parks Canada looks to shine light on cloudy future for historic sites

A plan is in place to produce 10-year plans designed to turn around sagging attendance figures

B.C. poet shines a bright light on struggle with homelessness

Book launch for John La Greca’s Homeless Memorial is at Vernon’s Gallery Vertigo July 21.

Most Read