Heartbreaking tributes to US tourist Gail Mattson, 79, killed by five-ton bull elephant that flipped truck on safari

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HEARTBREAKING tributes have poured in for a tourist who was killed by a rampaging elephant during a wild safari chase.

American Gail Mattson, 79, was one of the six holidaymakers touring the Kafue National Park in Zambia when the five-ton beast started running after them.

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Gail Mattson died after the attack at the Kafue National Park
The elephant was seen charging after the vehicle

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The elephant was seen charging after the vehicle
The beast used its tusks to flip the vehicle

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The beast used its tusks to flip the vehicle

Her devastated family shared a tragic photo taken the day she was killed in the attack, showing her inside a safari car.

They said “she was living life” that day, reports KSTP and had told friends the safari would be “her last big adventure.” 

Friend John Longabauth told the outlet: “She had told us that this safari was going to be her last big adventure.

“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 travelling as far, probably.”

Horror footage captured the moment a raging bull elephant started running behind the safari vehicle.

One of the startled tourists can be heard saying: “It’s coming fast”.

Suddenly the elephant catches up and attacks the car while the driver shouts: “Hey hey hey hey hey.”

The five-ton beast then uses its tusks to flip the vehicle onto its side as terrified tourists can be heard screaming.

Another tourist was seriously injured and four others had minor injuries.

Following the tragedy, the safari company Wilderness said a US tourist had been killed by a bull elephant.

Wilderness Chief Executive Officer Keith Vincent said: “At around 9.30am on Saturday the six guests were on the game drive when the vehicle was unexpectedly charged by the bull elephant. 

“Our guides are all extremely well trained and experienced but sadly the terrain and vegetation was such that the guide’s route became blocked.

 “He could not move the vehicle out of harm’s way quickly enough.”

It is believed all the guests on the truck were Americans staying at the Lufupa River Camp in the Kafue National Park, which is the oldest and second-largest safari park in the world.

The tented camp charges £350 per person per night.

Police are investigating the incident.

Mr Vincent added: “This is an extremely 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.  The deceased will be repatriated to the USA.”

Wilderness is a leading conservation and hospitality company that welcomes guests to many African countries to help conserve iconic wilderness areas.

It currently helps conserve six million acres of land over eight African countries.

The Kafue National Park is the size of Wales set over 22,000sqkm and is home to the African Big 5 – lions, leopards, elephants, buffalos and rhinocerouss.

Elephants kill an estimated 500 people a year in Africa.

She had reportedly told friends the safari would be her "last big adventure"

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She had reportedly told friends the safari would be her “last big adventure”
The company said the elephant was aggressive and charged unexpectedly

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The company said the elephant was aggressive and charged unexpectedly

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