Elderly American tourist killed in elephant attack while on safari in Zambia – NBC Chicago

A charging elephant killed an elderly American woman by overturning the car she was traveling in in a Zambian national park.

The “aggressive” creature shook the vehicle carrying six tourists and a guide, tour operator Wilderness, said in a statement Tuesday. He said the victim, aged 80, died after Saturday’s incident during a safari in Kafue National Park in western Zambia.

A video circulating on social media apparently showing the incident shows a large elephant running towards a car, which slows down as it approaches from its left side. The elephant then flips the vehicle and passengers can be heard gasping as the car flips over.

NBC News does not know the condition or identity of the person who filmed the video.

Photos shared online of the car, emblazoned with the tour operator’s logo, show it flipped on its side after the incident, with a deep gash in two of its side doors.

Wilderness, which describes itself as a “leading conservation and hospitality company” operating in eight African countries including Zambia, did not respond to NBC News when asked to confirm the authenticity of video and photos.

But the tour operator’s CEO, Keith Vincent, said in the release that the company’s “guides are all extremely well trained and experienced.”

“Unfortunately, in this case the terrain and vegetation were such that the guide’s route was blocked and he was unable to get the vehicle out of danger quickly enough,” he added.

The company did not name the victim, but her daughter, Rona Wells, identified her as Gail Mattson in a Facebook post. She said her mother died in a “tragic accident while on the adventure of her dreams.”

NBC News has reached out to the family for further comment.

Another guest was also injured during the incident and taken to a medical facility in South Africa, the Wilderness statement said, adding that four other people were treated for minor injuries.

The exact cause of Mattson’s death is unclear, but the company said his body will be repatriated to his family in the United States with the support of local Zambian authorities and the U.S. Embassy in Lusaka, the capital.

“This is a tragic event and we extend our deepest condolences to the family of the deceased guest,” the statement added.

Kafue National Park is Zambia’s largest and oldest national park, according to the park’s website, and covers an area of ​​more than 8,000 square miles. Large areas of the park remain unexplored and the website says it is home to a variety of untamed wildlife.

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