Dr. Katy Williams and her son, Finn, 3, are fighting for their lives after a giraffe attack in South Africa. The incident occurred on September 3 at around 6 p.m. local time in the Limpopo province, where Williams, 35, lives with her son and her husband, Sam Williams, 36. The BBC reports that Williams and her son have been airlifted to a hospital in Johannesburg. The network obtained a statement from Sam Williams that says he is taking it “one day at a time and [will] remain positive.” Williams and her son are listed as stable but critical.
The family lives on the Blyde Wildlife Estate, close to the town of Hoedspruit. The mother and son were initially treated at Hoedspruit Medical Rescue. Sam Williams says that he believes the giraffe saw his wife and son as a thread. Both Williams and her husband, are scientists in animal fields with post-PhD experience.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Williams’ Husband Was Returning From a Run When He Witnessed the Attack
The BBC reports that Williams’ husband was returning home from a run when he witnessed an attack. He had been able to chase the giraffe away before he called an ambulance. In his statement, Williams referred to the incident as an “unfortunate act of nature.” The manager of the estate where the Williams lives, said in a brief statement, “We are all in shock about this very sad incident and we ensure the family that they are in our prayers.” The estate is located in northeastern South Africa.
The Guardian reports that Williams and her son were 500 feet from their home when the attack occurred.
2. Doctors Conducted Surgery on Williams’ Son’s Brain to Relieve Pressure
Doctors have operated on Finn Williams at the Busamed Modderfontein to relieve the pressure on his brain caused by the attack reports the Guardian. Williams was also operated on. Sam Williams’ statement, issued by the family attorney, Marina Botha, read, “Dr. Sam Williams would like to thank all doctors and medical personnel from the hospital for their efforts to give his wife and son the best chance to heal. The family said that they have decided to take one day at a time and to remain positive. Botha added that the ER24 medical team was responsible for transporting Williams and her son. Botha said the team “worked relentlessly to stabilize mother and son while watching for two helicopters to arrive from ER24.” Mother and son were transported in different helicopters.
The statement also said, “Dr. Sam Williams has conveyed his gratitude to all emergency personnel, ER24, the medical team of Busamed Modderfontein hospital, the management team and residents of Blyde Wildlife Estate as well as the community of Hoedspruit for their assistance and support in this difficult time for him and his family.” Botha went on to single out Dr. Victor Loftie-Eaton for the care he provided to Finn Williams.
3. The Giraffe Involved Had a 2-Year-Old Calf
The Guardian reports, according to the manager of the estate, that the giraffe involved in the attack had a two-year-old calf. The manager said that the calf may have contributed to the giraffe attack. The giraffe in question was female. A statement from the ER24 EMS said that mother and son were trampled and “sustained numerous injuries.” News24 reported that local police have yet to launch an investigation into the attack.
In May 2018, Btish cameraman, Carlos Carvalho, was headbutted to death by a giraffe while filming a British TV series, Wild at Heart. The Sun reported at the time that the giraffe, known as Gerald, had a history of violent behavior and in 2016, he knocked a woman to the ground. Carvalho, 47, was knocked 16 feet by the animal.
4. Williams Is a Native of the U.S.
Williams is a native of the U.S., her husband is a British national. Williams is also a resident in the United Kingdom. According to her Facebook page, Williams married her husband in 2012. Sam Williams is from the British city of Bradford in Yorshire. The Bradford Telegraph and Argus reports that Sam Williams attended the Whitcliffe Mount School.
5. Williams’ Brother Has Been Issued Emergency Leave From the U.S. Navy to Be With His Sister
Williams’ father, Jack Standish, wrote an update on Facebook to his daughter’s condition. Standish said that “All of the surgeons are happy with the results.. She will have additional operations in the future… Progress was made in repairing here her shoulder, ribs and facial wounds.” He added that his daughter and grandson are “not out of the woods yet. He went on to say, “Thank you to all the friends and family and those who do not know Sam, Katy or Finn but have reached out for them.” The post also said that Williams’ brother, David, has been granted emergency leave from the U.S. Navy to be with his sister. On September 7, Standish said on his Facebook page that he had completed the 36-hour flight from Seattle to Johannesburg. Standish lives in Hermiston, Oregon, and is from Gig Harbor Washington.