A woman who saw the whale attack in an underground viewing area at the Orlando, Florida SeaWorld Wednesday, told The Today Show Thursday about the tragic string of events that led to the death of trainer Dawn Brancheau.
RadarOnline.com has the latest on Brancheau, who drowned Wednesday after Tilikum, a 12,000-pound male orca whale, grabbed her in his jowls and pulled her under the water, drowning her.
Victoria Biniak told Matt Lauer she saw Tilikum going out of the water, grabbing a human and shaking her violently.
Biniak, a mother from Chicago, IIIinois, was there with her 5-year-old daughter and three other kids, said: "With the way that he was thrashing around ... and a shoe actually fell off and the sirens went off and people were running around everywhere.
"We were just standing around and were immediately ushered away," Biniak said, adding she saw a male trainer running back and forth with an oar in his hands while black nets were being thrown into the tank.
The whale has a bloodstained history, as Brancheau's is the third death he has been connected to in less than 20 years. In 1991, Tilikum reportedly drowned one of his trainers at the Sealand of the Pacific in Vancouver, British Columbia. Seven years later, a second dead man was found on the whale's back in another incident police said was a drowning.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals have called Brancheau's death "a tragedy that didn't have to happen."
"For years, PETA has been calling on SeaWorld to stop confining oceangoing mammals to an area that to them is like the size of a bathtub," the animal rights group said in a statement. "It's not surprising when these huge, smart animals lash out."