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.)

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