Originally created 02/02/05

Elephant tramples circus worker to death



FORT WAYNE, Ind. - An elephant being loaded onto a truck trampled a circus animal trainer to death at Memorial Coliseum, police said.

Three handlers were loading the elephant Monday as crews packed up from this weekend's Shrine Circus, officials said. Two of the workers left the trailer and one man stayed behind to lock the trailer door.

A coliseum employee later saw the man lying inside a semitrailer with the elephants and alerted other handlers, said Victor Hopkins, spokesman for the Allen County Sheriff's Department. The man was taken to a hospital and died a few hours later.

Police said they did not know how many times the elephant stepped on the man, whose name was not released.

The elephants were calm when the other handlers returned to check on the man.

Elephants are the largest of all land animals, and depending on the sex and species they could reach 13 feet in height and weigh up to 6.5 tons, according to the Humane Society of the United States' Web site.

Captive elephants from 1990 to 2003 killed 65 people and injured 130, according to Circuses.com.