Rogue Wave Kills Mom in Maui
Her husband, 2 children witnessed the accident
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore, Newser Staff
Posted Jul 22, 2014 8:13 AM CDT
Wendi Van Briesen went bodysurfing with her son near Little Beach in Makena when a large wave pounded them, shattering two of her vertebrae and ultimately killing her.   (Facebook)

(Newser) – Flight attendant Wendi Van Briesen was bodysurfing with 13-year-old son Tanner in Maui when a huge wave turned the family's first vacation to Hawaii tragic, knocking her unconscious, shattering two of her vertebrae, and putting her into a coma. Van Briesen's husband, Aaron, and 11-year-old daughter, McKenna, witnessed the accident from the beach, and Aaron, a schoolteacher, pulled her out of the water and performed CPR. A week later, the Arizona native died while on life support, reports Arizona's 3TV.

"There are no words to describe it when you walk in and see her on a ventilator," her sister-in-law told Hawaii News Now. "It's been absolutely awful for our family—to go on vacation in Hawaii for the first time and go straight from an airplane to a hospital." The family had planned to fly to Kauai for the remainder of their vacation, but are instead flying home to Gilbert, Ariz., to plan the funeral. A GoFundMe page created when Wendi Van Briesen was still on life support has raised more than $42,000 to help with family expenses. (Another woman recently died in Maui while ziplining.)

More From Newser
My Take on This Story
To report an error on this story,
notify our editors.
Rogue Wave Kills Mom in Maui is...
Show results without voting
You Might Like
Showing 3 of 37 comments
Jul 22, 2014 11:24 PM CDT
I feel that people who take huge donations like this should have to show where the money went.
Ezekiel 25:17
Jul 22, 2014 4:08 PM CDT
A lot of people going apeshirt over the $42,000. That's what was collected. The family will need to pay the Hawaiian funeral home, airline, and then their own funeral home. Does a young lady like that have pre-need arrangements made? Highly unlikely and that means you go in and they really jack it up on you. Do they have plots purchased? That's often more expensive than an acre of land in some places. Then there's the opening. I worked for a cemetery chain that you could buy a plot for $250 but the opening costs were an additional $750. Now its more like $2000 and $1200. That's where living in rural America helps. My sister in law's mother died and it was a free plot and $100 opening in her rural community. Property taxes paid for the cemetery operations. So you see, the crowdfunding donations are for the whole deal. How about if they stayed longer than booked? You book a trip to Hawaii months in advance and you usually bundle it. You stay over that, now you are paying a daily rate.
Jul 22, 2014 1:59 PM CDT
I don't understand the bit about the medical expenses. Four people went on a Hawaiian vacation, but they have iffy medical insurance coverage?