ROCHESTER HILLS, Mich. (WJBK) - An African trip turned tragic for a Rochester Hills woman killed on safari by a hippo.
Carol Kirken is seen on Facebook sitting on a plane, smiling, bound for Tanzania for a vacation with family. She posted pictures of her exciting African safari, saying she saw so many beautiful animals including hippos and bull elephants.
But August 5 would be Kirken's last post - perhaps eerie now - as she wrote about witnessing a massive migration. That same day, family and friends tell us Kirken was attacked by a hippo and that she died in her son's arms.
Family members are working to get Kirken's body transported back to the US. In the meantime, a farewell to Kirken is scheduled for Sunday at the Potere-Modetz Funeral home in Rochester.
"Just shock," said Rochester Hills Mayor Bryan Barnett. "There are few people in the community that you think of that are absolute treasures and Carol is one of those in our community."
Barnett often worked with Kirken, who he described, was the fabric of their community. Kirken was widely known and respected as one of the founding members of the Rochester Area Women's Fund, which supports women's initiatives. She also volunteered her time with the North Oakland YMCA Supporting Military Families.
"Carol was aggressive about the organization and very passionate," Barnett said. "She called me just a few weeks ago and begged me to come to this meeting because she was excited about the new direction of the YMCA that was very important to her. They went around the table and said what is your interest in being here I said, 'I am here because Carol asked me to be here.'"
Many posted about the shocking loss on social media - but also paying tribute to a vibrant nurturing woman who inspired so many.
"(They) have talked about the way she has touched their lives all organizations all the organizations I did not realize she was involved in," Barnett said. "She is a person who left a positive mark in this community a lot of people who benefited because of her passion."