Gilbert mom dies in Hawaii beach accident - FOX 10 News | fox10phoenix.com

Gilbert mom dies in Hawaii beach accident

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PHOENIX (KSAZ) - It was supposed to be a giant family vacation, the first trip to Hawaii for everyone.

The sister-in-law we spoke with Monday said her family was flying out to meet everyone else when they got a phone call, as the plane was leaving the gate, there was a tragic accident on the beach.

"You just never think you go as a family to Hawaii, this big family vacation, you just leave one behind from one wave," said Lindsey Van Briesen.

Van Briesen said it was a freak and tragic accident that killed her sister-in-law. Wendi Van Briesen of Gilbert passed away Saturday after being hit by a wave on Maui's McKenna Beach.

"Her and her son were bodysurfing and a big wave came and took them under, thankfully my nephew made it out ok, but she didn't," she said.

Wendi fractures two vertebrae, she never regained conciousness.

"We don't know what happened under the wave, we don't know if she hit her head, if it was whiplash, or if it was a compression injury," said Van Briesen.

Lindsey and her family got the news as they were flying to Hawaii to meet them for vacation.

"We ran straight from the airplane to the hospital to be by her bedside, I wouldn't want to be anywhere other than that during that time," she said.

Wendi was a flight attendant, who Lindsey says could make the grumpiest traveler smile.

"She was bubbly, and dancing, one of those flight attendants which would get on the intercom and make jokes, have the plane dancing and singing," said Van Briesen.

Lindsey set up a GoFundMe account to help the family with finances. It's raised more than $40,000, far beyond what they ever expected.

"My brother in law cannot express his gratitude enough, it's absolutely amazing how this communities come together to support our family," she said.

Along with her husband and 13 year-old son Wendi Van Briesen's 10 year-old daughter was also at the beach when her mother was hit by the wave.

"They are so strong, they are a very religious family, they believe in god, and that their mom is with god. I cannot be any more proud of them, they're incredible," said Lindsey Van Brisen.

Funeral services are being planned. While difficult, Lindsey says Wendi's husband, a Gilbert school teacher, and her children are planning on starting school in a couple of weeks.

To help out the family of Wendi van Brisen visit: http://www.gofundme.com/bmw3q8
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