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British scientist says his son, three, has suffered a traumatic brain injury and is in a coma while his wife recovers after they were trampled by a giraffe - as he reveals the animal will be saved

Daily Mail logo Daily Mail 8/9/2018 Jamie Pyatt and Faith Ridler For Mailonline

The British scientist whose stricken son was attacked by a giraffe is praying he has not suffered brain damage as his wife begins to recover after being put in an induced coma during life-saving surgery. 

Dr Sam Williams is keeping up long bedside vigils at the South African hospital where son Finn, three, and wife Katy, 35, both remain in intensive care.

The pair suffered life threatening injuries after disturbing a female giraffe who was protecting her two-month-old calf in Hoedspruit, Limpopo Province.

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a child posing for the camera: Katy Williams and son Finn, three, (pictured) are in intensive care after the incident in a South African nature reserve © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Katy Williams and son Finn, three, (pictured) are in intensive care after the incident in a South African nature reserve

The mother and son were just 150 yards from their home on the Blyde Wildlife Estate when they were attacked by the animal on Monday. 

Dr Williams has since revealed that the giraffe will not be destroyed as a result of the attack.

He said: 'I am thankful that the giraffe will be moved with her calf as I was informed that she is not being destroyed as a result of the incident. I have no doubt that this is what Katy would want.

'Words do not come easy for same at this difficult time but he tries to remain positive and focus on every improvement they are making.

'I realise that even if things go well, we still have a long, hard road to recovery ahead of us, but I am hoping that we can one day go back to throwing rocks into the river together and have bedtime snuggles.

'Katy and I are are both very aware of how wild animals behave and how we should behave around them. We also realise with all the knowledge that anyone can have, that wild wild animal remain unpredictable as this tragic event has once again shown.'

Marina Botha, the family's lawyer, yesterday confirmed Finn's condition remains critical following the attack.

She said: 'Sam says his wife and son are doing well under the circumstance and Finn's condition is still unchanged and his condition remains critical.

a person holding a baby: Dr Sam Williams (middle) is keeping up long bedside vigils at the South African hospital where his son is in a paediatric intensive care unit © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Dr Sam Williams (middle) is keeping up long bedside vigils at the South African hospital where his son is in a paediatric intensive care unit

'At this stage the consequences of his traumatic brain injury are unknown and he is being kept under sedation. The family deny that they have been informed of any brain damage.

'The family have decided to remain positive until the full extent of Finn's injuries are known.'

The lawyer said that Mrs Williams was operated on by surgeons overnight on Wednesday into Thursday morning.

She said: 'Doctors are satisfied with her condition although she is under sedation.

'The operation was successful and she needs to be given time to heal.' 

Conservation biologist Dr Williams, 36, had been out for a run in the hills on the 394-hectare reserve which is home to giraffe, antelope, wildebeest, hippo and crocodiles.

a giraffe standing next to a fence: The attack happened near their home on the Blyde Wildlife Estate near Hoedspruit (pictured) © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited The attack happened near their home on the Blyde Wildlife Estate near Hoedspruit (pictured)

Mrs Williams had taken Finn out to see her dad return from his run as she often did when they spooked the female giraffe who lashed out to protect her calf.

The scientist and her son were trampled underfoot and it is believed both would have been killed had her husband not stumbled onto the scene as he returned from his trail run.

With the giraffe stamping on his wife and son with its long legs he ran at it screaming and shouting and waving his arms and the beast took fright and ran off with its calf.

He raised the alarm and tended his terribly stricken and blood drenched family as a medical team rushed to the Blyde Wildlife Estate who then called in two ER24 air ambulance helicopters.

The shock attack happened at 6pm on Monday and in the early hours of Tuesday morning Finn underwent emergency surgery to release intense pressure on his brain inside his skull.

Mrs Williams and Finn are being treated at Busamed Modderfontein Hospital near Johannesburg. 

Dr Williams is from Bradford, Yorkshire, and his wife is from Baltimore in the USA. They met while they were both doing research work in Indonesia.

a group of people posing for a photo: Ms Williams and Finn both suffered life threatening injuries after disturbing a female giraffe who was protecting her two-month-old calf © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Ms Williams and Finn both suffered life threatening injuries after disturbing a female giraffe who was protecting her two-month-old calf

Finn was born in the UK but has spend his whole life in South Africa.  

The manager of Blyde Wildlife Estate Riaan Cilliers said: 'We are all in shock about this very sad incident and we ensure the family that they are in our prayers'.

Mr Cilliers confirmed that the giraffe in question has a two-month-old calf which may have had an influence on her behaviour and may have been surprised by the mother and son. 

Mr Williams said in an earlier press statement that he regarded the incident as an 'unfortunate act of nature' where the giraffe saw his wife and son as a threat to her calf.

He said the family has asked the public and media to kindly respect their privacy during 'this very difficult time' that they are going through and released some family photographs. 

Family lawyer Marina Botha said: 'Sam confirms that he understands nature and with the information available at the moment he regards the incident as an unfortunate act of nature.

'He understands the giraffe saw his wife and son as a threat to her young one.'

 In an emotional post on Facebook, Mrs William's father Jack Standish gave an update on their condition and said his daughter had undergone a 'marathon of surgery'.

He wrote: 'The prayers and good loving thoughts from all faiths are being sent to Katy and Finn.

'Katy underwent a Marathon of surgery yesterday. All of the surgeons are happy with the results.. She will have additional operations in the future...Progress was made in repairing here her shoulder, ribs and facial wounds.'

'Finn, has undergone surgery on his hand and continues to get CT scans as well as X-rays.

'They are not out of the woods yet, please sent all you loving thoughts and prayers for them both.'  

The family live on the nature reserve in a purposely built secure gated nature reserve with 154 properties.

It boasts a clubhouse, tennis courts, gym and a restaurant and bar open to all residents.

Mrs Williams' father Jack Standish is said to be flying to South Africa to comfort his daughter and grandson and help his son-in-law look after his young family after the attack.

Dr Williams is a post-doctoral research fellow at the University of Limpopo and his wife Katy has a post-doctorate position at the University of Mpumulanga.

Earlier this year a cameraman who at worked on British TV show Wild at Heart was killed by a giraffe as he filmed at the Glen Africa game reserve in Broederstroom.

South African award winning film maker Carlos Carvalho, 47, was knocked 16 feet through the air when the giraffe violently swung its neck at him and he died in hospital.

The TV series featuring a British family running an animal hospital in the African bush was filmed at the Glen Africa reserve for many years worked on by Mr Carvalho.

Giraffes have one of the most vicious kicks in the animal kingdom and can kill a lion with a single hoofed strike and they can also kill with blows from their head or neck.

They have small horn like bumps called ossicones they use against each other in fights.

A spokesman for ER24 who sent two air ambulance helicopters confirmed Katy and Finn suffered 'numerous serious injuries' and were taken to hospital in critical condition. 

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