Schroon Lake's “Elephant Man” Found Dead

 In this 2012  Associated Press  photo, Jim Laurita, executive director of Hope Elephants, feeds a carrot to one of the two retired circus elephants at his nonprofit rehabilitation and educational facility.

In this 2012 Associated Press photo, Jim Laurita, executive director of Hope Elephants, feeds a carrot to one of the two retired circus elephants at his nonprofit rehabilitation and educational facility.

A vet who grew up in Schroon Lake, who won approval to open an elephant preserve at his home in Hope, Maine, for  two retired circus elephants was killed Tuesday morning when one of the animals apparently stepped on him after he fell in their enclosure.

James Laurita, co-founder of Hope Elephants, was found dead in a corral shortly after he went in to feed the two elephants, Rosie and Opal, around 7 am

From The Press Herald: "The Knox County Chief Deputy Sheriff Tim Carroll believes Laurita fell into the corral and hit his head on concrete. An autopsy conducted later Tuesday by the state medical examiner concluded that Laurita, 56, died from asphyxiation and multiple fractures resulting from compression of the chest, presumably because one of the giant mammals stepped on him".

We first wrote about Jim when he won approval for the sanctuary in 2011. You can read our story, here. Do you have memories of Jim as a youngster? Share them with us in comments.