SeaWorld Orlando fined $75,000 in whale trainer’s death

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration has announced $75,000 in fines for SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment.

The fines are related to safety violations found during a 6-month investigation at SeaWorld Orlando, following the February death of killer whale trainer Dawn Brancheau.

Brancheau drowned in a tank at SeaWorld after being grabbed and pulled under by a killer whale used in the Shamu shows at the theme park.

SeaWorld has already said it would challenge the findings, releasing a statement to the Orlando Sentinel that denied their validity:

“OSHA’s allegations in this citation are unsupported by any evidence or precedent and reflect a fundamental lack of understanding of the safety requirements associated with marine mammal care,” the statement said.

This morning on ABC’s Good Morning America, Linda Simons, a former SeaWorld health and safety director, accused the company of obstructing OSHA’s investigation. Simons said SeaWorld officials refused to turn over key documents or make certain officials available for interviews with the federal agency.

According to Simons, the documents included details about the aggressive histories of some of the company’s killer whales.

Simons was hired by SeaWorld about two weeks before Brancheau’s death, and fired on April 20. SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment said her comments this morning were “unfounded charges” from a disgruntled employee.

Tragic killer whale accident at Shamu Stadium kills SeaWorld employee

(This is a developing story)

A SeaWorld employee died this afternoon when she was grabbed by one of the whales at the start of a public show.

According to a park guest, the trainer had just finished explaining the show when a killer whale popped up out of the water and grabbed her.

The whale thrashed her around, at which point the sirens went off in the stadium forcing all guests to be evacuated. The trainer was pronounced dead by rescue personnel, but no more information has been released by SeaWorld.

Update: According to a breaking news source on Twitter, the whale in question is Tilikum (Tilly), the world’s largest whale in captivity. If correct, this would be the third time Tillikum has killed a human.

Update 2: All shows at Shamu stadium have been canceled for today.

(Image from: IONU/