Student on a Gap Year Killed by African Elephant He Was Taming

The Evening Standard (London, England), May 22, 2006 | Go to article overview

Student on a Gap Year Killed by African Elephant He Was Taming


Byline: BO WILSON

A FATHER told today how his son was killed by an elephant while on a gap year in South Africa.

William Andrew, 19, the son of an officer at the British High Commission in Kenya, was helping to tame elephants when the tragedy happened.

He was trying to train one of the animals to accept a rider from a sitting position when the animal became nervous and swung her trunk, hitting William.

He lost his footing and fell, striking his head on a pole. He went into a coma and was brought back to England, where he died at the Trinity Hospice in Clapham six weeks later.

Today his father, Colonel Robert Andrew, p a id tribute to his son, who had wanted to work in wildlife conservation in Africa.

" The family has held together but this has been incredibly hard and emotional," he said.

"One does wonder why this could have happened to such a young, vibrant chap who had so much to look forward to. As a child he was highly energetic, one of those children who hardly ever sleeps, and was great fun and very engaging.

"He was a popular and unusual teenager who could communicate with a three-year-old as well as a 90-year-old."

William had just finished his A- levels at Milton Abbey School in Dorset last summer when he flew to Nairobi to spend a month with his parents.

He then flew to South Africa to work at the Elephants for Africa Forever centre in Tzaneen, and carriedout two field guide courses.

He had hoped eventually to work with his mother Wendy, 44, a safari guide, and then apply to a South African university to study eco-tourism.

The accident happened in November. Mr Andrew said: "We were phoned at midday. My wife and I got on the next flight and were at his bedside that evening. …

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