Katherine Chappell a 29 year old US Game of Thrones special effects editor, 29 has been identified as the American tourist who came to be mauled by a lion at Johannesburg, South Africa’s popular drive through Gauteng Lion Park.
According to a report via the UK’s dailymail the American film editor was in Africa raising money for a charitable organization that protects animals from poachers, when she was ironically killed by the lioness as she leaned out of an open window in the passenger side of a car and proceeded to take ‘dazzling’ photos of lions Monday afternoon.
The woman’s identity comes as the tour guide who accompanied the film editor, Pierre Potgieter, 66 revealed he had suffered a heart attack (you think?) as she tried to save the woman’s life.
At the time the man had taken to trying to wrench his client from the jaws of the attacking lions. His attempts would lead to the man incurring grave injuries as well.
Since the incident there have been questions as to whether the pair had flouted park rules by driving through the reserve with open windows, an act that the park heavily discourages and warns against, with many placed signs openly warning that such action may lead to deadly consequences.
Speaking from his hospital bed, the tour guide denied he had flouted park rules and had put his client’s life in danger by driving with windows open.
Insisted the tour guide: ‘That’s not right… not right at all, ‘if that’s what they’re saying, that’s not the case. Not at all.’
Asked to describe the attack which killed his client, he replied, ‘It wasn’t good, dreadful. I’m still in a shock and daze about it.’
Corlien Potgieter, the guide’s wife would reiterate Chappell’s death ‘was the worst experience of his life’.
Speaking from her her home in Melville, the same suburb of Johannesburg where Katherine Chappell was staying at a guest house, the wife said: ’It’s a terrible thing that has happened, truly unbelievable.
‘Here we are in the city of Johannesburg and a lion kills someone – it is beyond belief. It is so very sad, our hearts go out to this woman.
‘The cardiologist said my husband must have had a heart attack as he was fending off the lion, or just after. His wounds are clean and there doesn’t seem to be any problem with them, it is just his heart we are now concerned about.‘
Addressing rumors that both front windows of the traveling vehicle were open at the time of the attack the wife claimed such assertions were false.
In a statement released by her, on behalf of their business Kalabash Tours, said Katherine Chappell had opened the window ‘of her own accord’, and at the last moment.
The statement also sheds more light on the tragic incident.
It reveals how, at about 2.30pm, the American film editor was taking pictures when the lioness attacked her through her open window – which was down despite advice to the contrary.
A statement released by Mrs Potgieter read: ‘The tourist had a camera and, of her own accord, rolled down the passenger window in order to take photographs. A lion then attacked the tourist through the open window.
‘Mr Potgieter tried to fend the lioness off and in the process sustained injuries to his arm. When the lion retreated, Mr Potgieter saw that the tourist had sustained extremely serious injuries.
‘She was bleeding profusely from her neck. Under the circumstances Mr Potgieter tried his best to stop the bleeding and save her life.
‘He applied constant pressure to stop the bleeding, while calling for help.’
The statement also accused Lion Park staff of failing to assist in attempts to save the stricken tourist who was bleeding heavily from the neck.
That claim is contrary to assistant parks operations manager Scott Simpson’s assertion that park staff rushed to pull the lioness off the young woman and carry out CPR, along with paramedics being called who in the end could do nothing to save her.
‘When the paramedics were treating the lady she unfortunately passed away,’ the operations manager had told.
That said, the Potgieters and Kalabash Tours newly released statement offers a different account, describing the first employee on the scene as ‘reluctant‘ to help him apply pressure to Katherine Chappell’s neck wound, leaving the tour guide to continue to battle to save her life.
The tour company’s statement said the ambulance only ‘arrived some time thereafter’.
‘For Mr Potgieter this felt like a very long time,’ it added.
Since Katherine Chappell’s death, police have taken to examining the woman’s final photographs as evidence that she had ignored warnings to keep her windows closed as she toured the South African safari park.
Traumatized tourists who watched as the nine-year-old lioness killed Chappell through an open window have also handed over pictures of the fatal attack.
ABC News also reported that the nine-year-old lioness responsible for the attack had been mating and had several cubs with her at the time of the incident, which could explain her aggressive demeanor towards intruders.
Two families were driving only feet away from the car carrying the victim when she was attacked.
They told police that Chappell was photographing the cat as it approached her vehicle.
Six adult witnesses, including two visitors from India, gave their own photographs of the attack and statements to police confirming that both front windows of the victim’s car were wide-open throughout her visit to the 20-acre enclosure, where she was attacked.
This has been denied by Pierre Potgieter, who has said only Miss Chappell’s window was rolled down at the time of the attack.
Offered Scott Simpson via the dailymail: ‘The dead lady’s camera was taken by police as evidence, as she was photographing the lioness through an open window up until the moment the lion attacked the vehicle.
‘According to eye witnesses, the lion was walking near the vehicle and the visitor was taking pictures through an open window.
‘Witnesses say that both front windows were down the whole time they were in the enclosure. The other lions in the area watched from a distance throughout.’
Lion Park officials released a statement on its Facebook page Tuesday announcing that the lioness who claimed Katherine Chappell’s life will not be put down. She has been identified and was being kept in a separate enclosure.
‘We would like to assure everyone that we will not euthanize the lioness. The lioness will remain under our care.’
‘It is incredibly sad that a life had to be lost in this manner– visitors to South Africa need to remember that predators are dangerous and rules are there for their own safety, if all the rules are adhered to your visit to the Lion Park, national parks and other similar facilities will be a safe and treasured’
Nevertheless, Katherine Chappell’s death is likely to put the popular tourist attraction under scrutiny, as it is the third big cat attack in just four months.
Whilst the park advises tourists to keep car windows in its bid to afford flocking visitors ‘super close-up animal views’ there was one recent incident where a lion was able to open a car door, which raises the question if banning tourists from the lion’s habitat might be the more sensible and life saving option? Notwithstanding the potential of lost revenue if such policy was enacted.
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