ORLANDO, Florida (AP) - A killer whale has attacked and killed a trainer in front of a horrified audience at a show at SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida, with witnesses saying the animal involved in two previous deaths dragged her under and thrashed her around violently.
Distraught audience members were hustled out of the stadium Wednesday afternoon, and the park was immediately closed.
Veteran trainer Dawn Brancheau was one of the park's most experienced. It wasn't clear if she drowned or died from the thrashing.
SeaWorld spokesman Fred Jacobs confirmed the whale was Tilikum, one of three orcas blamed for killing a trainer who lost her balance and fell in the pool with them in 1991 at Sealand of the Pacific in Victoria, British Columbia.
Tilikum was also involved in a 1999 death at Orlando SeaWorld.