Katherine Chappell, a 29-year-old from Rye, New York, died on June 1 after being attacked by a lioness at South Africa's Lion Park, a park representative confirmed to BuzzFeed News.
Chappell was in South Africa as a part of a volunteer mission to protect wildlife, CNN reported.
Chappell had been taking photos of a lioness when it walked toward her. It got within inches of the vehicle, and witnesses maintained that when it lunged into the car and bit her, the window was fully open.
Citing witness accounts, the representative said Chappell and the tour operator had not complied with the park's vehicle safety rules on the tour.
"We have many signs that clearly state that all windows and doors should be closed and locked at all times," a Lion Park statement read, adding that visitors and tour operators are given pamphlets just before entering the park that explain these regulations.
Lion Park, located in Lanseria between Pretoria and Johannesburg, allows tourists to embark on either a self-drive or a guided tour.
"Nowhere can you get closer to a pride of Lions and other animals and still be completely safe," its website homepage reads.
Other tourists and guides who witnessed the attack told the park that "both the passenger and driver's windows were open as the driver drove up to the pride of lions," the representative said.
The 66-year-old driver, Pierre Potgieter, suffered arm injuries while trying to fend off the lion and may have also suffered a heart attack, according to his company, Kalabash Tours. He sustained serious but non-life threatening injuries.
Potgieter applied pressure to Chappell's bleeding neck before the ambulance arrived within minutes of the attack. However, she died while paramedics treated her.
The lioness will not be euthanized.
"The management and staff of SA Lion Park would like to extend their deepest sympathies and sincere condolences to the family and friends for their loss," the statement read.
Chappell was working as a visual effects editor in Vancouver and had helped create effects for shows such as Game of Thrones and movies including, Divergence and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, according to her IMDb page.
She left for South Africa a week ago.
"Katie was a brilliant, kind, adventurous and high-spirited woman," her family members said in a Facebook post. "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."
Katherine Chappell was 29 years old. An earlier version of this post misstated her age.
Tamerra Griffin is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based Nairobi, Kenya.
Contact Tamerra Griffin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tasneem Nashrulla is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
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