Video: Crowd watches killer whale drown trainer

A TRAINER at SeaWorld in Florida has died after being snatched from a poolside platform by a killer whale.

A TRAINER at SeaWorld in Florida has died after being snatched from a poolside platform by a killer whale.

A shocked audience looked on as the five-ton whale grabbed the woman in its jaws and thrashed her around underwater last night.

Experienced trainer Dawn Brancheau, 40, was rubbing Tilikum after a noontime show when the whale grabbed her and pulled her in. It was not clear if she drowned or died from the thrashing.

Her sister said Ms Brancheau wouldn't want anything done to the whale that killed her because she loved the animals like children.


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A retired couple were among some stragglers in the audience who had stayed to watch the animals and trainers.

Eldon Skaggs, 72, said Ms Brancheau's interaction with the whale appeared leisurely and informal at first. But then the whale "pulled her under and started swimming around with her,'' he said.

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Mr Skaggs said an alarm sounded and staff rushed the audience out of the stadium as workers scrambled around with nets.

It is the third time the animal has been involved in a human death.

A SeaWorld spokesman said Tilikum was one of three orcas blamed for killing a trainer in 1991 and was also involved in a 1999 death, when the body of a man who had sneaked into SeaWorld was found draped over him.

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