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U.S. environmental leader dies at age 39 in a swimming accident in MexicoRebecca Tarbotton, head of the Rainforest Action Network, was caught in a wave while swimming in Puerto VallartaCause of death was ruled asphyxiationShe is survived by husband Mateo Williford, her mother and two brothers
She was vacationing with her husband and friends when she was killed
15:10 GMT, 29 December 2012
The executive director of San Francisco-based environmental group Rainforest Action Network has died in a swimming accident at a beach near Mexico's Pacific coast resort of Puerto Vallarta, police said Friday.
Rebecca Tarbotton, 39, was swimming Wednesday at a beach about a half hour north of Puerto Vallarta when she was caught by a wave and tossed around, said Adan Leyva, spokesman for Puerto Vallarta municipal police.
Leyva said that paramedics tried to revive her after she was brought ashore, but she was dead by the time she reached the hospital.
Died: Rebecca Tarbotton, 39, was swimming Wednesday at a beach about a half hour north of Puerto Vallarta when she was caught by a wave and tossed around. She died of asphyxiation
Environmentalist: Tarbotton was head of the Rainforest Action Network
'The coroner ruled cause of death as asphyxiation from water she breathed in while swimming,' the Rainforest Action Network said in a statement issued Friday.
RAN said Tarbotton — who friends called Becky — was travelling with her husband, Mateo Williford, and friends.
Her husband works for Oakland, California, solar company Sungevity. He posted a photo of Tarbotton sitting by a pool overlooking the Ocean on his Facebook in memorial to her after she died.
Dozens of people 'liked' the photo and posted their condolences on his wall.
'I grieve for your loss, Mateo, and the loss to the living world Becky defended,' wrote Jordan Fisher Smith.
Patrick McCully wrote, 'I'm so, so terribly
sorry Mateo. When I saw you both at Hellraisers I just thought how cute
the two of you were, making eyes across the room. For some reason I
thought of you both yesterday before I heard the awful news.'
Added Adam Browning, 'She leaves such deep tracks.'
The couple had no children.
Tarbotton is survived by her mother, Mary Tarbotton, and brothers, Jesse Tarbotton and Cameron Tarbotton.
A native of Vancouver, British Columbia, Tarbotton took the group's helm in 2010, the first woman to do so. She is pictured here with her husband.
Tarbotton's husband posted this photo on his Facebook in her memorial after she died
'RAN is heartbroken by our loss of
Becky, but we are committed to continuing the course that she set for
us,' Nell Greenberg, the group's spokeswoman, said. 'Focusing on our
core purpose of protecting forests, moving the country off of fossil
fuels and defending human rights through bold, effective, and innovative
environmental corporate campaigns.'
A native of Vancouver, British Columbia, Tarbotton took the group's helm in 2010, the first woman to do so.
Rainforest Action Network works with major corporations on environmental projects, and Tarbotton recently brokered an agreement with the Walt Disney Company that changed the way the entertainment giant uses paper, RAN said.
It was the biggest victory of Tarbotton's two-year tenure leading RAN and one of the most significant in its 25-year history, according to Forbes.
Tarbotton who friends called Becky was travelling with her husband, Mateo Williford (pictured right) and friends
Loss: She is survived by her mother, Mary Tarbotton, and brothers, Jesse Tarbotton and Cameron Tarbotton
'Many have noted what a force of nature Becky was, which is true – Disney execs danced for her, timber tycoons ran from RAN because of her,' Danny Kennedy, president of Sungevity and a former Greenpeace activist, told Forbes.
'But what I’ll remember was her sense of fun and her optimism and intellect,' he said. 'The last six months of conversations I have had with her have been about how to usher in the solutions, like solar, which are coming faster than she or I expected, to the crisis of climate change.'
Tarbotton's family said they planned to scatter her ashes off Canada's Hornby Island.
Video: Rebecca Tarbotton gives keynote address at RAN conference