Trainer's Death Was SeaWorld's Fault: Ex-Safety Chief

Accuses park of gross negligence as OSHA levies fine
By Jane Yager,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 23, 2010 12:10 PM CDT

(Newser) – It's not a good day for SeaWorld Orlando. As the news comes that OSHA has fined SeaWorld $75,000 for three violations that led to the death of trainer Dawn Brancheau, the park's former safety chief claims SeaWorld was grossly negligent in its safety preparation and has filed a federal whistleblower complaint. SeaWorld has responded by accusing Linda Simons of blackmail—park management claims she came to them first seeking a cash payment to keep quiet, the New York Daily News reports.

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Simons describes a SeaWorld safety drill that took place two weeks before the tragic death of Brancheau, who was drowned by a killer whale in February, as extremely inadequate. "It went so poorly that they stopped the drill and were going to have another one" a month later, she says. Simons was fired from SeaWorld during the investigation into Brancheau's death—she claims it was for talking too much to OSHA inspectors, while SeaWorld says she showed "poor performance."
(Read more Sea World stories.)

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