Tour Guide Speaks Out About Lion Attack That Left American Tourist Dead

Katherine Chappell, a 29-year-old American tourist, was mauled to death by a lion at The Lion Park near Johannesburg, South Africa, after she rolled down her window to take a photo of the animal. The lioness jumped through the window and killed the tourist as her tour guide frantically tried to save her life. The guide, Pierre Potgieter, 66, was also injured in the attack as he tried to pry the lion off of his client. Potgieter then suffered a heart attack from the stress of the event. Now, the tour guide is speaking out about the inefficiencies in the way the park handled the horrifying incident and failed to give proper care as the girl bled to death on the ground.

The Daily Mail reports that Potgieter, who works for Kalabash Tours, has defended his actions on the tour that day, noting that Chappell rolled down her window at the last minute to take the photographs despite his warning. However, Potgieter is mostly upset over what happened following the horrific mauling of his young client. Potgieter says that after the lioness pounced into the vehicle, it grabbed Chappell by the neck. He says he tried to pry the large cat off of the woman and sustained injuries to his arm in the process. The tour guide says that the Lion Park staff were “reluctant” to give the woman proper medical care, and that he resorted to applying pressure to the wound himself in an attempt to stop the bleeding as he was receiving very little assistance from staff. Potieter’s wife spoke on his behalf, as he was still in the hospital.

“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.”

In addition to the claims that staff gave “reluctant” care to the dying woman, he also notes that it “seemed like a long time” before the ambulance arrived on the scene. However, park staff say the ambulance arrived shortly after the attack and that they did all that they could do for the woman. They repeatedly point out that signs throughout the park note for visitors to keep their windows rolled up at all times.


Though the park staff is not claiming responsibility for the lion attack, the park is under fire for a recent rash of attacks. In fact, in the past four months, there have been three big cat attacks within the park. Despite the concerns, the park remains open for visitors.

Do you think the park should be held liable for Katharine Chappell’s death?

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