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Other LIers have seen tragedy on safari

The former Miller Place resident who died along with her 1-year-old daughter when an elephant charged them Monday in Kenya wasn't the first Long Islander involved in a fatal confrontation with African wildlife.

Natalie Waldinger, of Oceanside, died on safari in 2001 in Tanzania, where she worked for the Peace Corps. Newsday reported at the time that Waldinger exited a guide-driven Land Rover to photograph elephants and that her camera was still clicking when a mother elephant charged.

Thursday, William Waldinger said his family didn't blame anyone for his niece's death.

"The circumstance they reported to us was, unfortunately, she took too many chances," Waldinger, of Oceanside, said. "She was actually running away and tripped."

Hikers in Kenya's national parks are advised to take along armed guards to protect them in areas inhabited by elephants.

"The cases where there are accidents not only with elephants but with any animals are very unusual," said Henry Kartagener, whose Commack travel marketing company has clients in Kenya. He said humans are usually at fault.

Thursday, Laura Faye Martin, a Boston photographer, said Sharon Brown was her best friend and that she "was always in an adventure" - in places like Egypt and Bangladesh, where she worked for the Peace Corps. They met in 1990 at Binghamton University.

"She was always for the needy," Martin said, recalling how Brown put together a one-room library for poor children she met in an African village.

Martin didn't visit Brown in the far-flung places her friend called home - a fear of flying kept her away - but the two reunited when Brown returned to the United States on vacations.

Martin says she saw Brown and her husband, Jeff, one last time in July when they attended the photographer's wedding. The couple, Martin said, planned to move from Kenya to Mali later this spring.

A spokeswoman for the O.B. Davis Funeral Home in Miller Place said Thursday Brown's funeral will be private.

With Jennifer Smith

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