University dean ‘trampled to death by an ELEPHANT on luxury African vacation’ just three days before he was due to start his new job
- Dr. Thomas McAfee, 58, died on Saturday after being trampled by an elephant in Tanzania
- His body is still being held in Tanzania and is awaiting a death certificate
- His family have been informed of his tragic death
- Former UCSD dean was about to start new job as chief executive of the Keck Medicine of USC
By James Nye Daily mail PUBLISHED: 4 September 2013
An American doctor has died in terrifying circumstances while on a luxury safari in Africa after being trampled to death by a charging elephant on Saturday.
Sources with knowledge of the incident have confirmed to the MailOnline that Thomas McAfee, 58, a dean at University of California was in Tarangire National Park in Tanzania on vacation before starting a new position as chief executive of the Keck Medicine of USC Medical Foundation
McAfee’s body is still in the east African nation and his family have been informed of the tragedy as they wait for a death certificate to be issued.
There is no word yet on when his body will be flown back to the United States and details are scarce as to the exact circumstances surrounding his shocking death.
Elephants are known to make unprovoked attacks on people, but more often they react when they feel that their family is threatened or cornered.
As the world’s largest land animal weighing up to 15,000 pounds, a charging elephant is a frightening and deadly force to be reckoned with.
According to Debra Kain, director of Health Sciences Research Communications at UC San Diego, the death has come as a huge unexpected shock.
In an email sent to NBC San Diego, Mounir Soliman, assistant vice chancellor and executive director of Health Sciences International said, ‘It’s a true tragedy and great loss to all of us at UCSD. We are planning several events in celebration of Dr. McAfee’s life.’
Tarangire National Park is the sixth largest national park in Tanzania and covers 1,100 square miles and is home to 550 species including the giraffe, zebra and is noted for the famous termite mounds that dot the landscape.
A luxury safari in the park with accommodation at one of the top lodges in the area can cost up to $1,000 a night.
In a varied career at UC San Diego, McAfee was the dean of Clinical Affairs for the UC San Diego Health Sciences, as well as chief executive officer for UC San Diego Faculty Practice.
Sheer Power: The Dangers of a Charging Elephant
- It is thought that up to 500 people a year are killed by being trampled by elephants in Africa and Asia.
- Most charges are ‘mock’ threats and one of the key giveaways to this is whether the ears are fanned out or not.
- If they are fanned out it means the elephant is making a false charge and is not intending to follow through.
- If the elephant’s ears are pinned back flat, it is likely that the charge is real. This will often be accompanied by a trunk that is curled inward.
- If the elephant is trumpeting, it is also a sign that the charge is more likely to be mock.
According his online biography, McAfee joined UCSD Health Sciences in 2002 as their physician-in-chief.
His former colleages at UC San Diego, David Brenner, MD, Paul Viviano and Larry Friedman, MD, released the following email on Sunday to staff.
‘It is with regret and personal sadness that we inform you that Dr. Thomas McAfee, until very recently, the Dean of Clinical Affairs for UC San Diego Health Sciences and CEO for UC San Diego Faculty Practice, was killed in an accident while on vacation in Africa. We have no other details at present,’ reads the email.
‘Dr. McAfee served us and worked alongside us for more than 11 years, and his death is a great loss – both to many of us personally, and to the field of health care which would have benefited enormously from his talent and dedication in coming years.
‘Dr. McAfee was adventurous in spirit, loved to visit new places and to meet new people. A celebration of his life will be held in coming weeks for the Health Sciences community.’
On Tuesday he was to have begun as CEO of the newly formed Keck Medicine of USC Medical Foundation.
‘We can confirm the death of U.S. citizen Thomas McAfee in Tanzania on August 31. We offer our condolences to his family and loved ones on their loss,’ said a spokesman for the U.S. State Department,
‘We are in contact with the family and are providing all appropriate consular assistance.
‘Out of respect for the privacy of those affected, we decline further comment.’
Leslie Ridgeway, director of media relations for Keck Medical Center of USC, released the following statement Sunday afternoon for Thomas Jackiewicz, senior vice president and CEO of USC Health:
‘We are devastated by this news,’ said Jackiewicz.
‘Tom was a dear friend of mine and a respected colleague. His contributions to health care were numerous, and he was excited about the opportunity to begin a new chapter of his life and career helping us propel USC forward in its health-care growth.
‘The world has lost a kind and talented individual far too soon.’
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