Vistors watched in horror as veteran SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau was pulled in to the tank by a 12,000-pound killer whale and dragged under water Wednesday.
Petrified visitors who had stuck around after a noontime “Dine with Shamu” show saw animal charge through the pool with the trainer in its jaws. Workers used nets being an alarm sounded, but it was too late. Dawn Brancheau had drowned. It marked the 3rd time animal had been associated with a human death.
The whale, named Tilikum, apparently grabbed Brancheau by her long ponytail, based on the head of animal training at all SeaWorld parks, Chuck Tompkins.
Brancheau’s interaction while using whale appeared leisurely and informal at first to audience member Eldon Skaggs. However, the whale “pulled her under and started swimming around with her,” audience Skaggs told the Associated Press.
[ad#scarlett_post]“It was terrible. It’s very difficult to see the image,” said Brazilian tourist Joao Lucio DeCosta Sobrinho. He and his girlfriend said they saw the whale show on the park two days earlier and came back to take pictures. But on Wednesday the whales appeared agitated.
He was thrashing her around very good. It was violent,” witness Victoria Biniak told the Orlando Sentinel. The whale ” took off really fast in the tank and he returned, shot up in the air, grabbed the trainer by the waist and started thrashing (her) around,” she told the paper.
She said the attack was so violent that Brancheau’s shoe flew off.
Some workers hustled the viewers out of the stadium while the others tried just to save Brancheau, 40.
SeaWorld’s Web site said the park will be open Thursday but that killer whale shows were suspended for the moment at its Orlando and San Diego, California, parks. Its third location in San Antonio, Texas, isn’t yet open to the season.
adapted from: http://www.cbsnews.com/blogs/2010/02/25/crimesider/entry6242165.shtml
SeaWorld in San Diego has canceled its Shamu whale show at least for Wednesday after an Orlando SeaWorld employee was killed in an encounter having a whale at that theme park.
“We’re terribly saddened by the loss with the member of our SeaWorld family, it doesn’t matter what park,” said SeaWorld San Diego spokesman David Koontz. “We have canceled our afternoon Shamu show here today.”
Koontz said park officials had yet to make a decision about to whether to cancel Thursday’s show.
Orlando SeaWorld officials aren’t revealing the identity with the victim, although a local TV station is reporting that the female employee was killed right after she was grabbed by 1 of the theme park’s whales at first on the public show. Park guest Victoria Biniak told the station that the trainer would be a veteran of SeaWorld and had just finished trying to explain to the audience the show they were going to see.
At this point, Biniak said, the whale came up in the water and grabbed the woman.
“He was thrashing her around pretty good. It was violent,” Biniak said.