SeaWorld Whistleblower Speaks Out
INSIDE EDITION talks to the former Head of Health and Safety at SeaWorld who spoke out about the investigation into killer whale trainer Dawn Brancheau's death and the way she says SeaWorld handled the tragedy.
It was the tragedy that horrified America. A trainer at SeaWorld in Florida, killed by one of her beloved whales.
Last August, a woman has come forward claiming she was fired by SeaWorld for cooperating with the investigation into the case.
Linda Simons was Head of Health and Safety at SeaWorld.
"I was not happy with the way they were trying to cover up documents, change documents," said Simons.
INSIDE EDITION's Paul Boyd asked, "They tried to change documents?"
"Yes, they did," said Simons.
She started in the job just a week before the tragedy, in which trainer Dawn Brancheau was drowned by the killer whale named Tilly. The whale grabbed on while Dawn was in the water and dragged the trainer to her death.
Simons is critical of SeaWorld's response, saying, "Over 85 people responded. But the problem was, it was too slow. Once Tilly got Dawn in the water, there was no coming back alive."
Simons says Tilly, who was involved in another trainer's death in another park, was considered such a risk, all new staff were warned.
"There's the Tilly talk that they give to everyone new to the stadium, that tells them if you get in the water with Tilly, we're going to recover a corpse."
Boyd asked, "That's how dangerous Tilly is?"
"That's how dangerous Tilly is," replied Simons.
Simons claims SeaWorld withheld damaging information from investigators. She says she was fired by SeaWorld because she cooperated with the federal probe.
But SeaWorld says that Simons's allegations are false and that she was let go because of "poor performance."
SeaWorld reportedly says she used "the threat of negative publicity to seek a sizable monetary payment from SeaWorld."
Boyd said to Simons, "SeaWorld says the only reason you're even sitting here with us today is some grand extortion attempt, that you were trying to get money out of them and said 'I'll go to the press if you don't give me what I want.' "
"SeaWorld has offered me money, and part of that was that I would not talk. And I did not agree with that. As a safety professional, I think they need to be fully investigated to make sure the trainers that who are left are safe," said Simons.
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