American Woman Killed in Zambia

American Woman Killed in Zambia

( – Many people dream of going on a safari adventure vacation, where they can see wildlife in its natural habitat. However, sometimes things can go horribly wrong, especially considering the unpredictable nature of wild animals. One American woman on her “dream adventure” sadly passed away during a trip to South Africa.

Gail Mattson, 79, was just 11 days into her month-long trip when an elephant attack killed her on Saturday, March 30. She and five other tourists rode aboard an open safari vehicle on a tour in Zambia’s Kafue National Park when a male elephant charged it. The guide couldn’t move the vehicle out of the way fast enough, and the animal flipped it several times using its tusks. The park’s management sent a helicopter to evacuate the victims after the incident.

Several people from the vehicle sustained injuries, but Mattson’s were the worst. First responders took her to a local hospital, where she died. Mattson was one of six tourists on the tour. Aid workers took one other person to a medical center for treatment, and four others, all American, suffered minor injuries.

In a statement, Wilderness Safaris said its “guides are extremely well trained, but sadly, the terrain and vegetation” blocked the route. The company cooperated with authorities investigating the incident.

Rona Wells, Mattson’s daughter, confirmed the woman’s death in a Facebook post that also showed her mother and some of the pictures she took while in Zambia. Speaking with WCCO, the woman’s family described her as “adventurous” and loved by all. Mattson had told friends in Arizona that she planned to make her African safari her last big international trip.

The tour group that Mattson was attending was making plans to have her body sent back to the United States. Friends in Arizona held a memorial for her following the news of her death. She split her time between Arizona and Minnesota.

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