Katherine Chappell, an American tourist and visual effects editor who had worked on HBO's “Game of Thrones,” was attacked and killed by a lion while visiting Lion Park in Johannesburg, South Africa, on Monday. Chappell, 29, was born in Rye, New York, and had also worked on “Captain America: Winter Soldier,” “Godzilla” and the upcoming film, “Into the Heart of the Sea.”
Pierre Potgieter, a tour guide and the owner of Kalabash Tours, claims to have attempted to save Chappell, who suffered from numerous injuries and a heart attack while fighting off the wild animal, according to a statement made to ABC News on Wednesday. Chappell had reportedly lowered her window "on her own accord" to take a photo of a lion pride before being attacked, conflicting with earlier reports that claimed the entire tour was conducted with all the vehicle's windows down.
Reports say Chappell was taking photos of the animals and likely didn’t see the lion approaching from the side. She was riding in a vehicle with Potgieter, who was also mauled.
"Under the circumstances, Mr. Potgieter tried his best to stop the bleeding and save her life," the company’s statement said.
"The lioness approached from the passenger side and bit the lady through the window," Scott Simpson, assistant operations manager at Lion Park, said to NBC on Sunday. The park has experienced similar occurrences in the past, all resulting from open windows, something Simpson said is 'absolutely forbidden at our park,' adding there are 'numerous signs, and we hand out slips of paper to all guests warning them to keep their windows closed.' "
The park is a wildlife conservation enclosure that sits on 500 acres of land and is home to 80 lions, including rare white lions, along with cheetahs, hyenas, jackals, antelope and wild dogs. Celebrities have even visited the park, including pop singer Shakira.
"It is incredibly sad that a life had to be lost in this manner," the Lion Park statement said, according to CNN. "Visitors to South Africa need to remember that predators are dangerous and rules are there for their own safety. If all the rules are adhered to (during) your visit to the Lion Park, national parks and other similar facilities will be a safe and treasured experience."