World

79-year-old US tourist killed by bull elephant while on Zambian safari

A tourist from the United States was killed by a bull elephant last week during an African safari. 

Gail Mattson, 79, died Saturday after being attacked at the Kafue National Park in Zambia. Mattson was one member of a six-person safari group that was participating in a game drive that day organized by safari company Wilderness.

“At around 09h30 on Saturday the six guests were on the game drive when the vehicle was unexpectedly charged by the bull elephant,” said Wilderness’ chief executive officer.

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bull elephant

A bull elephant wanders through the brush in Kruger National Park near Hazyview, Mpumalanga, South Africa. (Brian Bahr/Getty Images)

He continued, “Our guides are all extremely well trained and experienced, but sadly in this instance the terrain and vegetation was such that the guide’s route became blocked and he could not move the vehicle out of harm’s way quickly enough.”

Footage captured by a passenger riding aboard a safari truck shows the five-ton bull elephant chasing the group. 

The truck was traveling 25 mph as the elephant ran full bore to keep pace. Eventually, due to a block in the road, the vehicle was forced to come to a halt and the elephant attacked.

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The animal – which stands taller than 10 feet – hooked its tusk under the truck and flipped it over before the recording cut out.

READ THE SAFARI COMPANY’S STATEMENT: MOBILE USERS, CLICK HERE

In addition to one fatality, another member of the safari group was severely wounded, and the other four suffered minor injuries.

“We can confirm the death of a U.S. citizen in Zambia. We offer our sincerest condolences to the family on their loss,” a spokesperson for the Zambian Department of State told Fox News Digital. “U.S. Embassy Lusaka is in contact with the family of the deceased and is providing all appropriate assistance.”

Kafue National Park

Trees are shown among thick underbrush in Kafue National Park, Zambia. (Dea/S.Vannini/De Agostini via Getty Images)

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The spokesperson continued, “Millions of U.S. citizens engage in adventure travel each year and attacks on humans by elephants in Zambia are a rare occurrence. We encourage U.S. citizens considering adventure travel to visit our website for further information on how to stay safe while traveling overseas.”

Wilderness released a statement acknowledging the “tragic event” and stating they will be coordinating the repatriation of the deceased.

“The deceased will be repatriated to her family in the USA with the support of local Zambian authorities and the US embassy in Lusaka,” the company said.

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