RYE, N.Y. -- Katherine Chappell grew up on a modest dead-end street in Rye, graduated from a competitive Catholic girls' school in Harrison and excelled well beyond her 29 years as a visual effects editor on the HBO hit series “Game of Thrones.”
Known for her sense of adventure, “Kate’’ is now internationally known as the American who got mauled on Monday by a lioness during a safari in South Africa. She was about to start a volunteer mission at a different wildlife preserve that saves elephants and rhinoceroses.
Chappell was killed when the lion dragged her from a car while photographing in the park north of Johannesburg, according to South African police. Chappell died as paramedics tried to save her after the lioness lunged into her open window at Gauteng Lion Park. The lioness had cubs nearby and may have been mating before the rare attack, according to ABC News.
The visual artist, who resided in Vancouver, Canada, was part of an Emmy-award winning company that produced HBO's "Game of Thrones." They were filming lions in the park when the fatality occurred. Chappell's tour guide, who was driving, was wounded, suffered a heart attack and was hospitalized, according to media reports. The guide said Chappell had rolled her window down to take a photo moments before the attack. Chappell hoped to produce a film about the dangers poachers pose to wildlife.
The Hofstra University alumna also is a graduate of a prestigious parochial school in Harrison, which released this statement Wednesday: "School of the Holy Child is deeply saddened about the tragic loss of Katie Chappell '04. We extend our deepest sympathy and prayers to the Chappell family and friends."
Mary Chappell called her daughter a talented woman who enjoyed chronicling her worldwide journeys: "Everyone who met her loved her," Mrs. Chappell told LoHud.com. "She lived a life of adventure – she loved traveling, she was full of life."
Their Rye home always was full of dogs, usually rescued from the New Rochelle Humane Society, LoHud reported.
Wednesday, a Rye police car idled near the family home as television helicopters occasionally circled above. Standing on their front yard, the Chappells greeted friends who stopped by to offer condolences.
In addition to her mother, Kate Chappell is survived by her father, Jonathan; a brother, Ryan; and sisters, Lauren Chappell and Jen Chappell Ringwald.
Jen, via social media, thanked everyone for their support: "It means the world to us during this difficult time."
In a Facebook post, the sister wrote: “Katie was a brilliant, kind, adventurous and high-spirited woman. Her energy and passion could not be contained by mere continents or oceans. She was very much loved and shared her love for life with those she met,”
A wake will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. on Friday and from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday at Graham Funeral Home in Rye. A memorial service will begin at noon on Saturday.