Minnesotan killed on safari in Zambia after elephant charges vehicle

Minnesotan killed on safari in Zambia after elephant charges vehicle

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS reporter Ben Henry confirmed with family members that Minnesota woman Gail Mattson, 79, was killed on a safari in Zambia.

Mattson was vacationing in Zambia when, over the weekend, safari officials say an elephant charged tourists on a “game drive” through Kafue National Park.

Mattson’s family says the picture of her holding the flower was taken the day she was killed, adding that she was “living life” that day. 

Family told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS that the U.S. Embassy contacted them about Mattson’s death. Friends also said Mattson was kind, active in her community and very adventurous.

A video shows the moment the elephant attacked the truck that the group of tourists were riding in.

“Wilderness,” the safari company, said an American tourist was tragically killed by a bull elephant while on a game drive. They say the elephant was aggressive and charged unexpectedly, adding that the guide couldn’t get out of harm’s way fast enough.

Family members say Mattson was killed on scene.

The safari company added that another guest who was hurt was taken to a “private medical facility,” and four others were treated for minor injuries.

Mattson split time between living in Minnesota and Arizona. Friends from Arizona told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS Mattson was an adventurous friend who will be missed.

“She had told us that this safari was going to be her last big adventure,” said John Longabauth. “Because her birthday is in the summer — I think she was going to be 80, and she felt like she would start slowing down. To be honest, I don’t know if she’d slow down or not. But at least you wouldn’t be traveling as far, probably.”


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