Katherine Chappell loved lions too much. The 29-year-old nature lover was in South Africa on a volunteer mission to protect the huge cats when she was killed in a lion attack.
Katherine was at Lion Park, a nature reserve, for a drive through look at the wildlife, but she couldn’t resist the temptation to get closer. When the tour car stopped to watch a pride of lions, Chappell rolled down her window for a photo, and a lioness launched herself through the opening. The lioness bit Katherine in the neck, and also attacked Chappell’s tour guide, Pierre Potgieter. Potgieter was lucky to survive, but is now in the hospital, recovering from a heart attack.
When the attack happened, Potgeiter “leapt into action” to protect Chappell. He fended off the lioness as she mauled Chappell, sustaining serious injuries himself. Katherine was still alive at that point, although severely wounded and bleeding profusely from the neck wound. Pierre tried to stop the bleeding, calling for help. Another park employee responded to his calls, but reportedly refused to help save Katherine.
— ABC News (@ABC) June 3, 2015
A statement released by Potgeiter’s company, Kalabash Tours, clarified that the window had not been open while Katherine and the guide were driving around, as earlier reported.
“Mr. Potgieter strongly denies that they were driving around the lion enclosures with open windows,” the statement said of the horrific June 1 incident at Fourways Lion Park in Johannesburg.
Lion Park assistant operations manager Scott Simpson said that a witness saw a window “fully down with [Chappell] taking pictures.” There was also a picture on the Lion Park website showing vehicles in the park with windows open. The photo was removed after Chappell’s death.
The tour guide’s wife said that Katherine wanted to be able to walk around with lions, and that she was “mad” about the big cats. Even if Katherine left the windows closed throughout the drive, all it took was one time of letting her heart rule instead of her mind. Lion love can be a dangerous thing.
Katherine’s sister, Jennifer Chappell, posted a statement to Facebook.
“Katie was a brilliant, kind, adventurous and high-spirited woman. Her energy and passion could not be contained by mere continents or oceans. She was very much loved and shared her love for life with those she met.”
As “The Lion Whisperer,” Kevin Richardson, says, “These big cats are far from tame.”
How did Kevin Richardson become the Lion Whispere…: http://t.co/gjXVkcl4qY Love our kevvy.. come back to oz please
— Annii Downing (@bigcatsAnnii) January 28, 2015
[Image via the Mirror]