Anne Godsey Survived 1971 Killer Whale Attack

Anne Godsey Survived 1971 Killer Whale Attack

A killer whale attacked a woman at SeaWorld, and as trainers tried to pull her out, the two-ton beast grabbed her leg in its razor sharp teeth and held on.

The dramatic incident, caught on tape, foreshadows the tragedy at SeaWorld when trainer Dawn Brancheau was killed by a whale.

"She could have at any time just closed her mouth and I would have been history," says Anne Godsey, who was 22 at the time of the attack.

It happened at SeaWorld San Diego in 1971. The whale was the original world-famous Shamu, the killer whale, SeaWorld's icon.

Godsey, then a secretary working at SeaWorld, was asked to ride Shamu's back in a bikini for a promotional event.

At first all seemed well, but then Shamu dumped her in the water and appeared to pull her under.  

"I was actually sitting on her bottom jaw with my arms around her head," remembers Godsey.

A scuba diver tried to rescue her but he was also attacked. As trainers tried to drag Godsey out, the whale slammed into her.

"I [thought I] was going to drown. So I was getting as much air as I could hold, knowing she was going to dive [again]," says Godsey.

And just as she was being pulled to safety, Shamu clamped her jaws down on Godsey's leg and wouldn't let go.

"I just looked at Shamu and said, 'I'm not going back in the tank with you. I'm just not. You can take my leg, I'm not going back in that tank' And she let go," Godsey tells INSIDE EDITION.

She climbed, exhausted, over the parapet to safety and collapsed. She had cuts that required 200 stitches, but they weren't her only injuries.

"Psychologically I was out of commission for a good ten years, I was pretty useless," Godsey admits.  

The news of Dawn Brancheau's tragic death brought back all the traumatic memories of those terrifying moments in the jaws of a whale.

"It hit me like a ton of bricks. I feel for her family," she says.