UNITED STATES NEWS

Tourist with Phoenix ties who was killed by an elephant in Zambia was an adventurer, family says

Apr 5, 2024, 6:00 PM

An elephant charged and killed a woman who split time between Minneapolis and Phoenix. (Pexels phot...

An elephant charged and killed a woman who split time between Minneapolis and Phoenix. (Pexels photo)

(Pexels photo)

 

MINNETONKA, Minn. (AP) — Family members described an American tourist who was killed in Africa when a bull elephant charged the truck she was riding in as an adventurer who loved to travel.

They identified her as Gail Mattson, 79, of Minnetonka, Minnesota. She was with other tourists on a game drive in a Zambian national park when the animal charged, flipping over the vehicle and killing her, a safari company said Thursday. The attack also injured five others on March 30 in Kafue National Park, which at 8,600 square miles (22,400 square kilometers) is one of Africa’s largest animal reserves.

“Sadly she lost her life in a tragic accident while on her dream adventure,” her daughter, Rona Wells, said in a Facebook post.

Her son, Blake Vetter, told the Star Tribune of Minneapolis that “this is more than about a little old lady that got killed by an elephant. She lived an extraordinary life” while raising two children by herself.

According to the safari company Wilderness, the “aggressive” bull elephant unexpectedly charged at the truck, which was carrying six guests and a guide on a morning excursion through wild areas.

Vetter told the newspaper his mother loved adventure trips to China and other destinations. She was a mortgage company loan officer before she retired at 55. She split her time between the Minneapolis and Phoenix areas and golfed three to four times a week, he said.

“We were going to skydive when she got back,” Vetter said.

While many wildlife parks in southern Africa teem with dangerous animals like elephants and lions, it’s rare for such a charging attack to occur.

Keith Vincent, CEO of the safari company, said the terrain made it impossible for the vehicle to get away.

“Our guides are all extremely well trained and experienced, but sadly in this instance the terrain and vegetation was such that the guide’s route became blocked and he could not move the vehicle out of harm’s way quickly enough” he said.

 

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

United States News

Associated Press

Storms have dropped large hail, buckets of rain and tornados across the Midwest. And more is coming.

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Residents in Omaha, Nebraska, awoke to weather sirens blaring and widespread power outages early Tuesday morning as torrential rain, high winds and large hail pummeled the area and began moving east to threaten more of the Midwest. More than 10,000 customers were without power in and around Omaha, and the deluge […]

17 minutes ago

Associated Press

Gov. Moore celebrates ship’s removal, but says he won’t be satisfied until Key Bridge stands again

BALTIMORE (AP) — Maryland Gov. Wes Moore celebrated the removal of a hulking container ship just under eight weeks after the deadly collapse of a Baltimore bridge, but emphasized Tuesday that the work is not done. “I’m very moved by the fact that I can now look out over the Patapsco River and not see […]

46 minutes ago

Associated Press

Gene Pratter, federal judge overseeing Ozempic and Mounjaro lawsuits, dies at 75

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Gene E. K. Pratter, a federal judge who oversaw numerous high-profile cases during her lengthy career and was currently overseeing lawsuits involving the diabetes and weight loss drugs Ozempic and Mounjaro, has died. She was 75. Pratter’s death was announced Friday by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of […]

54 minutes ago

Associated Press

The Latest | Defense rests its case without Trump testifying in his hush money trial

NEW YORK (AP) — The defense rested its case in Donald Trump’s hush money trial on Tuesday morning without the former president taking the witness stand to testify, bringing proceedings one step closer to closing arguments. After more than four weeks of testimony, jurors were sent home with Judge Juan M. Merchan telling them they […]

6 hours ago

Associated Press

Defense rests without ex-President Trump taking the witness stand in his New York hush money trial

NEW YORK (AP) — Donald Trump’s lawyers rested their defense Tuesday without the former president taking the witness stand in his New York hush money criminal trial, moving the case closer to the moment the jury will begin deciding his fate. “Your honor, the defense rests,” Trump lawyer Todd Blanche told the judge following testimony […]

12 hours ago

Follow @ktar923...

Sponsored Content by Sanderson Ford

3 new rides for 3 new road trips in Arizona

It's time for the Sanderson Ford Memorial Day sale with the Mighty Fine 69 Anniversary, as Sanderson Ford turned 69 years old in May.

Sponsored Articles

...

Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines can get you smoothly from Phoenix to Frankfurt on new A330-900neo airplane

Adventure Awaits! And there's no better way to experience the vacation of your dreams than traveling with Condor Airlines.

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Day & Night is looking for the oldest AC in the Valley

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.

...

Fiesta Bowl Foundation

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade is excitingly upon us

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Lerner & Rowe is upon us! The attraction honors Arizona and the history of the game.

Tourist with Phoenix ties who was killed by an elephant in Zambia was an adventurer, family says