Everyone on vacation tries new things with a fun sense of adventure and, of course, you never think things can take a turn for the worse. However, the unthinkable can happen even in the most beautiful places.

A sad story unfolded this week involving a Minnesota woman who was on a dream vacation with family and friends to South Africa when things turned tragic.

Where Did The Incident Take Place?

According to multiple sources, including KARE 11, Gail Mattson a 79-year-old retired resident of Hopkins, Minnesota, was 11 days into a month-long dream vacation overseas when she boarded an open safari vehicle to enjoy a safari in Zambia's Kafue National Park.

Kafue National Park is Zambia's largest national park at 8,650 square miles. Because it's home to five of sub-Saharan Africa's iconic big animal species, lions, elephants, leopards, rhinoceros, and buffalo, it's a popular tourist destination.

Rona Wells Facebook
Gail Mattson/Rona Wells Facebook

A Blocked Path Leads To Tragedy

The safari began with 6 people on board the vehicle, which is operated in the area by Wilderness Safaris, a “leading conservation and hospitality company” operating in 8 African countries, including Zambia.

While on their adventure, a large bull elephant took notice and became aggressive, coming toward the vehicle. Unfortunately, the vehicle's route became blocked by terrain and vegetation and the driver could not move the vehicle out of harm's way quickly enough as the elephant charged and then used its tusks to flip the vehicle over several times.

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Video of the attack was captured on a tourist's cell phone from inside the vehicle.

The Aftermath

After the attack, Kafue National Park management was immediately called to help and a helicopter was dispatched to the scene. Gail Mattson was evacuated to a South African hospital but succumbed to her injuries

Four other guests sustained minor injuries, with one woman needing treatment in a South African hospital, and all are receiving trauma counseling.

A Wonderful, Adventurous Woman Remembered

After the tragedy, Gail Mattson's daughter posted on Facebook to report what had happened and to share pictures showing how much her mom had enjoyed the adventures of her dream vacation.

Wells and other family members are waiting for Gail's remains to be returned and then memorial services will be planned in Minnesota and Arizona.

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