March 31st, 2010
05:25 PM ET

Autopsy on SeaWorld trainer released

An autopsy report released Wednesday confirmed that a SeaWorld trainer killed after a 12,000-pound killer whale pulled her underwater died of drowning and traumatic injuries to her body, including her spine, ribs and head.

Dawn Brancheau, 40, was working with a whale named Tilikum in knee-deep water at SeaWorld in Orlando on February 24 when the animal grabbed her by the ponytail and pulled her underwater in front of shocked onlookers at the park's Shamu Stadium.

The autopsy report by the Orange County, Florida, medical examiner's office says Brancheau sustained fractures to her jawbone, ribs and to a cervical vertebra, in addition to the drowning.

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soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. vangiedee

    Either she died of drowning OR traumatic injuries.

    March 31, 2010 at 7:43 pm | Report abuse |
  2. MrpoliceMan

    a KILLER WHALE! killed her, why a need for an autopsy?

    March 31, 2010 at 7:57 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Lila

    It was ruled as an accident, the whale is a strong animal, when they shake and things bump them it doesnt hurt them much, Humans are very sensitive twe get pulled, bumped, shaken and it can be fatal to us.

    I assume the Tillikum grabbed the hair, it got stuck in his teeth and he freaked out because it was stuck. The scratches and cuts could be he was trying to get her off by pushing her into the rocks or the sides of the pools. probably the dislocations were due to him shaking really hard.

    Bottom line is- accidents happen, the whale was curious and it was his downfall for a death, the other two incidents dont count cause the man died from the cold water, no marks on him or anything. Plus he did this before he jumped into the manatee pool. sealand incident was cause of the girls, if you look at previous one of the whales, nootka had a history of biting and pulling her trainers in before the keylte bryne accident. Even the pictures of the sealand incident shows two female whales as they pull the trainers body up. So.. says alot. Its over and done with Dawn is gone Tilly is performing again, let this rest.

    April 1, 2010 at 3:31 am | Report abuse |
  4. Eurosurfer

    Hmm... a $2 Million killer whale kills a third victim. The SeaWorld staff wait 40 minutes for a brave and heroic rescue while the whale enjoys its snack. If they wanted to save the trainer they would have had to kill the whale; what a horrible financial dilemma.

    Seems like SeaWorld's greed killed the trainer. The killer whale just did what killer whales do. They snack on smaller critters.

    April 1, 2010 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |