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Westchester native killed in African lion attack

A Hofstra University graduate who was mauled to death by a lion in a South Africa game preserve was remembered Wednesday as an adventurous soul, with a passion for film and wildlife.

Katherine Chappell, a Westchester native, was killed Monday in Lion Park near Johannesburg, park officials said.

Chappell, 29, a film editor, was part of a team that won an Emmy for work on the HBO television series "Game of Thrones." She was filming and photographing lions in the game preserve when the attack occurred, according to news reports.

Chappell's mother, Mary Chappell of Rye, told The Journal News that her daughter was about to start a two-week volunteer stint on an African wildlife preserve.

"Katie was a brilliant, kind, adventurous and high-spirited woman," her family said in a statement posted online. "She was very much loved and shared her love for life with those she met."

Chappell, who lived in Vancouver, British Columbia, worked for a special-effects company, the mother said.

Katherine Chappell graduated from Hofstra in 2008 with a bachelor's degree in film studies and production, according to university spokeswoman Karla Schuster.

Chappell arrived with the dream of becoming a filmmaker, said Phil Katzman, chairman of Hofstra's Radio, Television, Film Department.

"It was something that she had a true passion for," said Katzman, chairman of the Radio, Television, Film Department.

Katzman said Chappell liked all genres of film but remembered her fondness for romantic comedies.

"She was extremely upbeat, and it was contagious," he said. "People were always smiling around her because of her."

The park where the mauling occurred allows lions to roam while tourists drive through the preserve. A park official said Chappell was taking pictures through an open window when a lioness attacked.

The park's rules prohibit vehicle windows from being open, the official said.

Chappell is survived by her parents, two sisters and a brother. A funeral service is planned for noon Saturday at Graham Funeral Home in Rye, said Eugene Gaurino, director of the funeral home.

With Candice Ferrette

and AP

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