The Orange County Sheriff’s Office has confirmed that a trainer was killed this afternoon by a killer whale at SeaWorld.
Emergency personnel responded to a report of an injury at the park just after 2pm Eastern time, and arrived to find one person dead. The trainer, who has not been identified, was a senior trainer at the park and had been with the company since the mid-1990s. Witnesses to the deadly accident say the whales appeared agitated prior to the attack.
A witness to the attack in Shamu Stadium spoke to local media about the incident:
Witness Victoria Biniak said she saw the deadly incident from a viewing area.
“The trainer was explaining different things about the whale and then the trainer that was down there walked away from the window. Then Telly (the whale) took off really fast in the tank and he came back, shot up in the air, grabbed the trainer by the waist and started thrashing (her) around,” Biniak said.
Biniak said the attack was violent enough for her shoe to fly off.
Part of the park remains closed following the incident. You can view a live press conference discussing the attack on ClickOrlando.
Update: The woman, 40, has still not been publicly identified. SeaWorld San Diego has also suspended their Shamu Stadium events.
Update 2: Dan Brown, president of SeaWorld, said during the press conference that the trainer’s cause of death was drowning.