Walt Disney World news

One Person Confirmed Dead at SeaWorld Today

Leah Zanolla | Posted: Feb 24, 2010 | Updated: Oct 19, 2014 - 9:25:27 AM
Orange County Fire-Rescue has confirmed the death of one person at SeaWorld this afternoon. Official details have not been released yet as to who the person was. The incident happened at Shamu Stadium after 2:00 pm.

Unconfirmed reports by witnesses are that a trainer was pulled into the tank and killed. It was also reported that at least half of the park was closed down after the incident.

Update: The victim was Dawn Brancheau, 40, who had 16 years of experience working with sea animals. Witnesses report the whale pulling the trainer under the water and flinging her around. An official cause of death has not been released yet.

The incident happened after the noon show. Audience members were still on hand to watch the animals and the trainers. According to an eyewitness, Brancheau had been massaging the whale, when the animal pulled her under. Alarms sounded and guests were quickly escorted from the stadium. The park was then closed.

The whale, Tilikum, has been involved in two fatalities before. He was one of three whales that were suspected of killing a trainer at Canada's Sealand of the Pacific in 1991. In 1999, the body of a homeless man was found draped over the whale. The man died of hypothermia, but had also been battered by Tilikum.