American woman killed by lion in S. Africa identified as 'Game of Thrones' editor
The attack took place Monday at Lion Park on the outskirts of Johannesburg while Chappell snapped photos of a nine-year-old lioness through an open window of the car she was riding in.
According to park staff, the lioness had been lying in a pride when Chappell and her guide drove past in a 4x4, but then got up and came toward the car.
As Chappell took pictures, the lion suddenly leaped through the open window and bit her.
Driving through the safari park with open windows is against park rules. Witnesses reportedly said that both windows were down at the time of the attack.
“Witnesses say that both front windows were down the whole time they were in the enclosure. The other lions in the area watched from a distance throughout,” Lion Park operations manager Scott Simpson told the Mail Online.
Chappell's guide, 66-year-old Pierre Potgieter, has denied claims that he was driving with the windows fully open.
"That’s not right…not right at all," he said. "If that’s what they're saying, that’s not the case. Not at all."
He said the attack was “dreadful,” and that he was still in a “shock and daze about it.”
Potgieter's wife, Corlien Potgieter, said in a statement that Chappell opened the window“of her own accord”at the last moment.
She added that her husband, Pierre, tried to fend off the lion, and suffered a heart attack and serious injuries in the process.
When the lion finally retreated, the guide saw that Chappell had sustained “extremely serious injuries,” according to his wife.
“She was bleeding profusely from her neck. Under the circumstances Mr Potgieter tried his best to stop the bleeding and save her life. He applied constant pressure to stop the bleeding, while calling for help,” she said.
Paramedics arrived at the scene, but Chappell died while they were trying to save her.
Potgieter's statement alleged that Lion Park staff did not do enough to save the tourist, but Simpson said employees rushed to pull the lioness off the woman and carried out CPR.
She said that the first employee on the scene was “reluctant” to help Potgieter apply pressure to Chappell's neck, offering the guide little help.
Lion Park says it is unable to comment on how the situation was handled until an investigation has been conducted.
“The dead lady’s camera was taken by police as evidence, as she was photographing the lioness through an open window up until the moment the lion attacked the vehicle,” Simpson said.
Police have also taken the cameras of two other families to determine why the lion pounced and whether anyone was at fault.
Originally from New York, Chappell graduated from Hofstra University in 2008 with a degree in film studies and production. She was currently living and working in Vancouver as a video effects editor for the production company Scanline.
She was part of the team that won an PrimeTime Emmy award for HBO’s 'Game of Thrones,' and had also worked on major motion pictures such as 'The Secret Life of Walter Mitty' and 'Noah.'
Chappell is survived by her parents and three siblings. In a Facebook post, they said she was a “brilliant, kind, adventurous and high-spirited woman.”
She "was very much loved and shared her love for life with those she met," they added.
Chappell was in South Africa volunteering with an organization that protects animals. The trip was the result of a GoFundMe campaign that she launched in March.
“I will be assisting rangers in tracking and monitoring animals, setting up camera traps, participating in poaching prevention techniques, providing support and assistance to [veterinarians], and be involved in game capture and relocation,’’ Chappell wrote at the time.
Chappell's memorial service will take place in her hometown of Rye, New York, on Saturday.