'Her face was torn apart': eyewitness recalls horrific lion park attack

By admin
08 June 2015

The lioness that attacked and killed an American tourist ripped out part of her shoulder and also tore into her face and chest, an eyewitness has told various newspapers.

“The lioness had half of the passenger’s shoulder in her mouth. It was too late for anyone to save her,” engineer Ben Govender told Rapport newspaper as well as British publications, the Daily Mail and Mirror.

Film editor Katherine Chappell, aged 29, was named as the victim of the attack that took place on Monday at the Lion Park outside Johannesburg. “Her face was torn apart, the right side of her chest was gone,” The Mirror quoted Govender as saying. The 38-year-old was travelling behind the vehicle driven by tour guide Pierre Potgieter in which Chappell was a passenger.

Just an emmy...no big deal :-) #got

A photo posted by Kate Chappell (@katertots85) on

Open window

Govender told Rapport that it was Potgieter who opened his window first, and then Chappell.

He said initially it did not look as if this had bothered the lions. But then the lioness went up to the car and stood up on her hind legs. Govender snapped a photograph of this moment.

He said the attack happened no more than 15 seconds later: “No one could think what would happen next.”

Govender said it appeared as if Potgieter could not drive away or get the window closed fast enough.

“It was frightening. After the first bite, the lion dropped down from the car with blood on her mouth and paw”.

He said the lioness then attacked Chappell again.

Potgieter tried to stop the bleeding by applying pressure to her wounds, but she died shortly after the ambulance arrived, according to a statement from his tour company, Kalabash Tours.

The Daily Mail reported that Chappell’s funeral is to be held on Sunday in Rye, New York City.

Kalabash Tours said that Potgieter, 66, had tried to fend off the lioness and in the process sustained injuries to his arm.

Besides physical injuries, Potgieter also suffered a heart attack during the incident. He was being treated in hospital.


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