Killer whale attacks, kills trainer at Orlando SeaWorld as horrified guests watchBy AP
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Whale kills SeaWorld trainer as guests watch
ORLANDO, Fla. — Officials in Florida say a veteran 40-year-old trainer at SeaWorld was fatally injured by a whale when she slipped and fell in its tank.
SeaWorld Orlando President Dan Brown says officials are investigating but it appears to be an accident.
Spectator Victoria Biniak told WKMG-TV that the trainer had just finished explaining to the audience a show they were about to see Wednesday when the whale appeared to grab the trainer and thrash her around.
Brown says SeaWorld has never experienced an incident like this.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — A trainer at SeaWorld Orlando died Wednesday after a killer whale attacked her in front of a horrified audience.
Orange County Fire Rescue spokesman John Mulhall said paramedics were called to the Shamu Stadium at the theme park resort where they found a worker who could not be revived.
Park guest Victoria Biniak told WKMG-TV that the trainer had just finished explaining to the audience the show they were about to see.
The whale “took off really fast in the tank, and then he came back, shot up in the air, grabbed the trainer by the waist and started thrashing around, and one of her shoes flew off,” Biniak told the station.
“He was thrashing her around pretty good,” she said. “It was violent.”
The guests were asked to leave and the park was closed.
There have been several previous attacks on whale trainers at SeaWorld parks.
In Nov. 2006, trainer Kenneth Peters, 39, was bitten and held underwater several times by a 7,000-pound killer whale during a show at SeaWorld’s San Diego park. He escaped with a broken foot. The 17-foot-long orca who attacked him was the dominant female of SeaWorld San Diego’s seven killer whales. She had attacked Peters two other times, in 1993 and 1999.
In 2004, another whale at the company’s San Antonio park tried to hit one of the trainers and attempted to bite him. He also escaped.
In December, a whale drowned a trainer at a Spanish zoo.
At the Orlando SeaWorld, the body of a naked man was found scratched, bruised and draped over a 5-ton orca named Tilikum in July 1999. Daniel Dukes, 27, reportedly made his way past security at SeaWorld, remaining in the park after it had closed. Wearing only his underwear, Dukes either jumped, fell or was pulled into the frigid water of Tilikum’s huge tank.
An autopsy ruled that he died of hypothermia in the 50-degree water. But they also said it appeared Tilikum bit the man and tore off his swimming trunks, likely believing he was a toy to play with.
Dukes’ parents filed a lawsuit against the park later that year but ended up withdrawing it.
Seaworld is owned by private equity firm Blackstone Group.
Tags: Accidents, Florida, Geography, North America, Orlando, Shamu, United States