SeaWorld workers describe speed of fatal attack
Published: Monday, March 1, 2010 at 6:02 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, March 1, 2010 at 6:10 p.m.
ORLANDO, Fla. — SeaWorld employees who witnessed a killer whale attack its trainer said it happened suddenly and that the trainer was dead by the time they were able to pry her loose.
One employee whose job is to watch the trainers told Orange County sheriff's investigators that Dawn Brancheau was lying face-to-face with the whale Tilikum to communicate with him before the attack. Jan Topoleski said in documents released Monday that he saw Tilikum bite Brancheau's hair and, within two seconds, pull her into the pool.
Employees said Tilikum began speeding around the pool with Brancheau in his mouth. It took several minutes to corral him and use a hydraulic lift to raise him. Brancheau was still in his mouth, apparently dead. They pried her free.
Officials are still investigating Wednesday's attack.