SeaWorld’s Ex-Safety Chief: Gross Negligence Caused Trainer’s Death
August 23, 2010
(ChattahBox)—Linda Simons, former safety chief for SeaWorld in Orlando, fired soon after the horrific death of Killer Whale trainer Dawn Brancheau, is publicly taking aim at her former employer, in the wake of filing a federal whistleblower complaint, alleging gross negligence by the water park. And SeaWorld officials responded by attacking Simons as an extortionist. Simons, hired just one week before Brancheau’s death at the hands of the killer whale Tilikum, says she was fired for revealing too much to federal investigators. And she also alleges that SeaWorld officials impeded the OSHA investigation. But her former SeaWorld employers contend the safety director was sacked for “poor performance.”
Brancheau was dragged to her death by Tilikum, last February, as horrified spectators looked on. After her death, it was learned that the whale had killed twice before, and was considered dangerous.
According to Simons, park officials knew Tilikum was dangerous. They warned employees they would “come out a corpse,” after entering the water with the whale.
Brancheau’s death, as described by Simons is not for the faint of heart.
“When the 6-ton killer whale pulled Brancheau under by her ponytail on Feb. 24, the response was “very chaotic,” she said. As tourists watched in horror, Tilikum dragged Brancheau around the tank, scalping her and breaking her neck as well as drowning her. It took 30 minutes to retrieve her body.”
SeaWorld denies her charges, saying she was fired for a”demonstrated an inability to conduct herself to the acceptable standard of competence, transparency, integrity or professionalism.”