British kayaker tweeted ‘I will be killed’ days before she was killed by pirates
As she traveled through Brazil’s northern region on a mission to kayak the 4,000-mile length of the Amazon River, Emma Kelty repeated a warning from a Peruvian guide in tongue-and-cheek fashion.
“I will have my boat stolen and I will be killed too,” she tweeted. “Nice.”
It appears the latter part of that warning has come true.
On Sept. 13—a day after remarking that she’d come across dozens of men in motor boats armed with arrows and rifles near Coari, an area known to be frequented by river pirates and drug traffickers—Kelty sent out a distress signal and then went silent, reports the Guardian.
Authorities now believe the 43-year-old British woman had pitched her tent on the banks of an Amazon tributary near Lauro Sodré when she was approached by a gang of at least 7 pirates who shot her and threw her body in the river, police said.
A man and two 17-year-olds are in custody while police search for four other suspects who may have tried to sell Kelty’s tech devices.
A search for Kelty’s body is also underway. A statement from Kelty’s siblings note they’re “extremely proud” of their sister, who sought “to prove that challenges were achievable.” (She had quit her job as a school principal in 2014 to travel solo.)
Back in February, Kelty—who became the sixth woman to ski solo to the South Pole in January—told the BBC that surviving encounters with “people who organ-harvest and rob and fire guns” was “half the challenge” of her Amazon adventure.
“But it’s about minimizing the risk,” she said. “I’m going to a self-defense course which is going to be tailored to de-arming people, so if I do come across that situation at least I’m prepared for it.”