Tourist photographs fatal lioness before it kills Rye woman

A lioness at a South African game preserve, seen leaning on the door of a stopped SUV, lunged just seconds later through an open window and mauled Katherine Chappell as she took a photograph herself.FEATUREWORLD.CO.UK

A lioness at a South African game preserve, seen leaning on the door of a stopped SUV, lunged just seconds later through an open window and mauled Katherine Chappell as she took a photograph herself.

A frightened tourist snapped a photo of the chilling moment before a lioness at a South African game preserve lunged through the window killing a Rye woman.

The powerful beast, seen leaning on the door of a stopped SUV, lunged just seconds later through an open window and mauled Katherine Chappell as she took a photograph herself.

The 29-year-old Rye woman died almost immediately, according to South African police.

“It was terrifying. After the first bite, the lioness retreated from the car with blood dripping from her mouth and paw,” said Ben Govender.

The 38-year-old South African engineer was riding in a car behind the vehicle carrying Chappell when he snapped the shocking photo before the horror unfolded.

“The rangers came running in and the two lions ran off,,” Govender said. “And it was too late to do anything to save her.”

Chappell, a Hostra University graduate, worked for the past year with Canadian special effects company Scanline VFX in Vancouver, on movies and shows including HBO’s “Game of Thrones.”

“Kate was a valued member of our team and we are devastated by the loss,” Scanline VFX said in a statement.

Chappell had traveled to South Africa with the hope of making a movie about animal poaching, her mother, Mary Chappell, told The Journal News. “She lived a life of adventure — she loved traveling, she was full of life.”

The young filmmaker was an animal lover who grew up surrounded by family pets, the paper reported.

Katherine Chappell, 29, died almost immediately, according to South African police.Katie Chappell via Facebook

Katherine Chappell, 29, died almost immediately, according to South African police.

Chappell, a Hostra University graduate, worked for the past year with Canadian special effects company Scanline VFX in Vancouver, on movies and shows including HBO’s 'Game of Thrones.'Katie Chappell via Instagram

Chappell, a Hostra University graduate, worked for the past year with Canadian special effects company Scanline VFX in Vancouver, on movies and shows including HBO’s ‘Game of Thrones.’

Chappell is survived by her parents, two sisters, a brother and a brother-in-law.Katie Chappell via Instagram

Chappell is survived by her parents, two sisters, a brother and a brother-in-law.

A wake for Chappell was planned for 7 to 9 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to noon Saturday at the Graham Funeral Home in Rye. A memorial service will be held at noon Saturday.Katie Chappell via Instagram

A wake for Chappell was planned for 7 to 9 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to noon Saturday at the Graham Funeral Home in Rye. A memorial service will be held at noon Saturday.

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But nothing could have prepared her for her fatal encounter with the big cat.

“The lioness was just too powerful. It was extremely fast, all over in a matter of a couple of minutes,” Govender said. “And all we could do was hoot the horn for help.”

The park where the mauling occurred allows lions to roam free while tourists drive through the preserve. A park official said visitors are ordered to keep their windows closed.

Pierre Potgieter, 66, the local tour guide riding with Chappell, was also injured and was hospitalized after the incident.

“It looked almost innocent —a photo of this beautiful lion stretched out, standing up like that against the car,” Govender said. “No one could have imagined what would happen next.”

Chappell is survived by her parents, two sisters, a brother and a brother-in-law.

A wake for Chappell was planned for 7 to 9 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to noon Saturday at the Graham Funeral Home in Rye. A memorial service will be held at noon Saturday.

With News Wire Services

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