Safety Director Claims SeaWorld Ordered Her to Obstruct Whale Death Investigation

Monday, September 20, 2010
Linda Simons, SeaWorld’s former safety director, claims she was fired for not following the orders of park officials to impede the federal government’s investigation of a trainer who was killed by an orca earlier this year.
In her lawsuit filed against SeaWorld, Simons alleges her former employer wanted her to “obstruct the investigation” as well as manipulate documents, withhold possible evidence and make witnesses unavailable.
On February 24, animal trainer Dawn Brancheau was killed when one of the park’s killer whales, Tilikum, pulled her underwater and drowned her.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced last month it would fine SeaWorld of Florida $75,000 for three safety violations, including one related to Brancheau’s death “for exposing its employees to struck-by and drowning hazards when interacting with killer whales…with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health.” Tilikum had been involved in the death of another animal trainer at Sealand of the Pacific in Vancouver in 1991.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
Linda Simons v. Seaworld (Circuit Court, 18th District, Florida) (pdf)
Sea World WhistleBlower: Trainer Death Caused by Park's Negligence (by Yunji Nies and Sarah Netter, ABC-Good Morning America)


Tyler 13 years ago
Seaworlds whales are not recieved from japan anymore, they breed their whales now so they dont have to take them from the wild. I am against taking them from the wild, but with keeping the ones that were born into captivity, as they dont know any other way to live. Part of seaworld mission is to show the public how intelligent these whales and creatures are so that people may have respect for the ocean and the things they throw into it. We should be more worried about the millions of pounds of plastic and fishing line that are carelessly thrown into the water. It does say in Genesis 1:26 - And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. We do have a god given right to the creatures of the earth, but how we choose to use them, thats the question and the thing to ponder. Seaworld's overall goal is to make the public awar of the envirnment and its inhabitants we are harming by not taking care of the ocean. We should be directing our attention to something more productive such as whaling in japan and how they treat them. you should watch the cove if you dont know what i am talking about.
Katrinka 13 years ago
Captive marine mammals are a billion dollar industry, which will not go away until made unlawful. The only way we can rectify this is to get a law written and passed. Many of the marine mammals come from Japan. One whale is worth 1 million dollars. Up for it everyone? Let's go! Start with you representatives. Election year, this could be powerful.
Becky 13 years ago
“For exposing its employees to struck-by and drowning hazards when interacting with killer whales…with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health.” I find this statement confusing. If killer whales are "drowning hazards" than why are they still kept in captivity? Wouldn't a wise decision be to set them free since they can harm humans? I honestly can say I don't blame the Orcas. They're confused, unhappy, and squeezed into a small pool to do tricks in order to amuse us. I feel for the families of those who's lives were lost but perhaps it's time to make a change. If God's intentions were to keep wild creatures captive then they would have been born into a cage or tank. Seriously I've had enough of how marine animals are treated. We need to stop thinking we're God.
Rita 13 years ago
It looks really bad for Sea World....I hope this will show the world we do not have the right to keep these Whales, Dolphins and any animal from freedom. I am against holding these intelligent animals for money and human gain. Just let them go free.
Teresa 13 years ago
$75,000. . . wow, that should put a huge dent in Sea World's profits. It's disgusting. They kidnap whales from their families and ocean homes, force them to do tricks for food, and now they cover up the details a human death? It's clear they don't care about the whales' welfare, but you would think they would care about the welfare of their human employees. Guess not. Sea World--Home of Greed!
Joanne 13 years ago
Another reason Killer Whales should not be kept in captivity, for the love of GOD people wake up and realize this is not right- they belong in the ocean, it's very selfish to keep them as "pets" to entertain us. I feel very bad for the girl that died but we should take a moment to realize on her behalf what this means and it's simple- set them free before someone else gets hurt or is killed- bc I'm sure there will be more, they don't call them Killer Whales for nothing.
Sparrow 13 years ago
Not looking good for Sea World.. especially after a 12 year old orca, Sumar, died at Sea World San Diego last week (consider that wild orcas live the same life span as humans!) and that just a few months ago, a pregnant orca in her 20s, named Taima, died at Sea World Orlando. I'm completely against keeping these beautiful, intelligent beings in captivity for human amusement. Just as I wouldn't attend a circus, I wouldn't go to Sea World or other marine theme parks... it only supports this neglect.
Colleen 13 years ago
Tilikum not only drowned Dawn, in fact, he took her left arm completely off, ripped her scalp off, broke her breast bone and other injuries to her neck, knee and elbow. If she had SCUBA gear on, she would have died of tramatic injuries. Thanks. Colleen

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