SeaWorld Blamed for Trainer’s Death

Remember when a killer whale killed a SeaWorld trainer in February? Linda Simons, the former head of safety for SeaWorld, says that gross negligence led to the drowning. She also says she was fired for talking to federal investigators about the case, when Dawn Brancheau died after the animal grabbed her ponytail and dragged her underwater. SeaWorld is calling Simons an extortionist in response, claiming she threatened to make “false allegations” unless the company forked over cash. Simons started working for SeaWorld just a week before Brancheau’s death and has filed a whistleblower claim with the feds. Simons said that only two weeks before the trainer’s drowning, SeaWorld held a safety drill that went terribly, requiring another to be rescheduled a month later. Staffers were no-shows, Simons says, and didn’t pay attention. The response to Brancheau’s attack was chaotic, and staffers couldn’t get her body for half an hour, as the killer whale pulled her around the tank, scalping her and breaking her neck. Simons says that SeaWorld didn’t show all key documents to investigators and prevented interviews with trainers. SeaWorld says Simons was fired for “poor performance.”