Elephant attack leaves American woman dead in Kafue National Park in Zambia

Johannesburg – The elephant attack that killed an American woman in Zambia was captured on horrific cellphone video over the weekend. The clip, filmed by tourists in Kafue National Park in Zambia, begins inside an open safari vehicle during a drive.

From a distance, a large elephant can be seen heading towards the car. The car's occupants cannot be seen in the video, but one of them is heard saying: “Oh my God,” before the man says, “Coming fast.”

The vehicle stops and then another voice, presumably a game warden, attempts to verbally shoo the elephant away while the large elephant attaches its tusks to the vehicle and rolls it several times.

family members Certain Gil Mattson, 79, of Minnesota, was killed in the attack. In a Facebook post, Rhona Wells said her mother died in a “tragic accident while on the adventure of her dreams.”

Mattson, a retired loan officer, spent 11 days on a month-long vacation abroad, her family told WCCO, describing her as “adventurous” and “loved by everyone.”

Wilderness Safaris, which organizes the tour in the Zambian park, said in a statement that it was cooperating with national authorities to investigate the incident and offered its condolences to Matson's family.

A male elephant is seen in an archive photo taken on a road in Kafue National Park in Zambia.

Joan Hedger/Getty


The other tourists traveling with Mattson were also Americans, and four of them suffered minor injuries in the attack, Wilderness said.

The company said: “Our guides are very well trained, but unfortunately the terrain and vegetation were so severe that the road became blocked,” explaining that the guard “was unable to move the car out of harm’s way quickly enough.”

Mattson was taken to a hospital in South Africa after the accident, but she died from her injuries.

Kafue National Park is the largest national park in Zambia at 8,650 square miles. It is a popular tourist destination because it is home to five of sub-Saharan Africa's famous large animal species: lions, elephants, leopards, rhinos and buffalo.

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