A woman from Long Island was trampled by a wild elephant in Kenya as she held her 1-year-old daughter in her arms. The child was also killed in the incident, which happened on Monday afternoon during a nature walk near the Castle Forest Lodge, where they were vacationing. Sharon Brown, 39, originally from Miller Place, Long Island, and her daughter, Margaux, were killed; Brown’s husband and three other tourists survived. The Browns were in an area where hikers are advised to travel with an armed guard to defend them against stampeding elephants, but they were with an unarmed hotel guide.
“The elephant emerged from the bush at full speed without any warning,” lodge owner Melia van Laarvan Laar told the AP. “Everybody ran away, but the lady, burdened by the weight of the baby, perhaps, or in panic, was not able to run fast enough.” Brown, a former Peace Corps volunteer, worked as the librarian at the International School of Kenya in Nairobi, where her husband is a teacher. “She was an excellent student and beautiful person,” said her father John Laurie. “She was loved by everybody and loved to travel extensively.”
Witnesses say the elephant came upon the hikers from behind, and a spokeswoman for the Kenya Wildlife Service, Kentice Tikolo, told the AP, “It was a lone elephant and lone elephants can be quite dangerous. It probably felt quite threatened.” Tikolo also says that deaths by charging elephants are rare in Kenya, and happen about once a year. However, the Daily News reports that more than 15 people (typically Kenyans, not foreign tourists) are killed by wild animals each year, three-quarters of them by elephants. In fact, humans are killed by wildlife so routinely that the Kenyan Wildlife Service has a set rate for compensation: $389 per death.