Editor’s Note: Paul Oakey’s mother has given St. George News the blog address to follow updates on Oakey’s condition: http://elderoakey.blogspot.com/
ST. GEORGE – A local missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is alive after being attacked by two lions yesterday while visiting a zoo in Guatemala where he is serving a church mission.
According to an email update by his family, Paul Oakey was at the zoo with fellow missionaries when he climbed a concrete wall to get a better photo of himself in front of a lion cage. However, the fence that kept the lions from the concrete wall was not as tall as Oakey had originally thought. With his back turned, one lion reached through the fence and grabbed Oakey’s right leg and pulled him against the fence. A second lion then grabbed his left upper arm.
According to the update, the other missionaries could not scale the wall fast enough to rescue Oakey. It took Oakey two minutes to free himself from the lions.
Oakey was initially stabilized and was going to have to wait five hours for the surgeon to arrive. However, a vascular surgeon happened to be at the rural hospital where he was initially taken. Typically there is no such surgeon at that location, the update reported. The surgery apparently went well, and all the missionaries in the area with a matching blood type lined up to donate.
According to the report, family is still waiting to hear whether Oakey will have full use of his fingers.
The LDS Church released the following statement:
Elder Paul Richard Oakey, 20, from St. George, Utah serving in the Guatemala Guatemala City South Mission was attacked by a lion when he stood too close to an exhibit at a local zoo while on a preparation day activity. He sustained serious injuries to a leg and arm and was rushed to a local hospital where he underwent emergency surgery. The doctors are still evaluating and assessing his condition. Our thoughts and prayers are with Elder Oakey and his family as he goes through this difficult time.
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