Last photos taken by American tourist moments before she was killed after elephant rammed truck on African safari

Thursday, April 4, 2024
 – The American tourist killed when a bull elephant flipped over their safari vehicle in Zambia has been identified as an adventurous 79-year-old woman who wanted the trip to be her “last big adventure.”

Mattson, who was visiting from Minnesota, was pictured the day she was killed on the safari vehicle holding a flower, her grieving family told KSTP.

She was one of six tourists with the group Wilderness Zambia who were out on a game drive Saturday, March 30, in Kafue National Park when they came under attack by the animal.

Terrifying video footage shows the elephant chasing after the safari vehicle moments before it charged the group, tipping the truck over as the guide repeatedly yelled at the creature. The passenger continues to record as the elephant flips the vehicle over.

Family told the outlet that the US Embassy contacted them about her death.

Loved ones described the 79-year-old as kind, adventurous and very active in her community.

“She had told us that this safari was going to be her last big adventure,” her friend John Longabauth said.

“Because her birthday is in the summer — I think she was going to be 80, and she felt like she would start slowing down. To be honest, I don’t know if she’d slow down or not. But at least you wouldn’t be traveling as far, probably.”

Mattson split time between living in Minnesota and Arizona, her family said. Her friends in Arizona held a memorial for her following her sudden death.

According to the Safari company, one other guest was hurt and taken to a private medical facility.

The four other tourists on the trip were treated for minor injuries after the violent outburst.

The horrifying incident unfolded at about 9:30 a.m. Saturday during a game drive through Kafue National Park, Wilderness Zambia CEO Keith Vincent said in a statement.

Kafue National Park’s management sent a helicopter to evacuate the victims.

“This is a tragic event and we extend our deepest condolences to the family of the guest who died. We are also, naturally, supporting those guests and the guide involved in this distressing incident,” Vincent said.

The group of tourists had been staying at the luxurious Lufupa Camp in the Kafue National Park, the largest game reserve in Africa. The tour group is making arrangements for Mattson’s body to be returned to the US.

Police and other authorities are investigating the incident.

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