University of California, San Diego dean and doctor Thomas McAfee was tragically trampled to death over the weekend by an elephant while on safari in Tanzania at the Tarangire National Park, the Daily Mail reports.
McAfee, 58, had been spending the last of his vacation in the country, just days before he was about to start his new job as chief executive of the Keck Medicine of USC Medical Foundation on Sept. 3.
His sudden death has been met with shock by family and colleagues, as little details have been released so far surrounding the exact circumstances of what happened that fateful Saturday, though the Daily Mail reports that it was an elephant that attacked McAfee.
"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," Mounir Soliman, assistant vice chancellor and executive director of Health Sciences International, wrote in an email to NBC San Diego.
"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," David Brenner, MD, along with Paul Viviano and Larry Friedman, MD, released in an email on Sunday to the UCSD staff.
"Dr. McAfee was adventurous in spirit, loved to visit new places and to meet new people," they wrote. "A celebration of his life will be held in coming weeks for the Health Sciences community."
According to the Daily Mail, it is estimated that 500 people a year are killed by elephants in Africa and Asia, as when angry and charging, these enormous land animals can be a deadly force. Although most elephant charges are "mock" threats, if the elephant's ears are pinned back flat against its head and its trunk is curled inward, chances are it is likely to follow through with its charge.
While his death certificate is being made, McAfee's body will remain in the African country, as there is no word yet on when he will be flown back to the U.S.
Click here to see a video report from NBC on Thomas McAfee's tragic death in Tanzania.