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Former trainer said mistake triggered orca attack

Published February 26, 2010 6:32 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2010, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The former boss of a trainer drowned by a killer whale in Orlando says he believes the attack was triggered by the trainer's mistake.

Thad Lacinak (lah-CIN'-ick), a former head trainer at SeaWorld, told ABC's "Good Morning America" on Friday that he has seen video of the moments preceding the fatal attack Wednesday. He said he believes trainer Dawn Brancheau (bran-CHOH') made a mistake by letting her ponytail drift in the water in front of the killer whale.

Lacinak says the killer whale grabbed the ponytail in his mouth and pulled her in the water.

Lacinak says Brancheau, if she were alive, would acknowledge it was her mistake.

Lacinak says Brancheau was lying on an underwater shelf called a slideout. The killer whale named Tilikum was next to the shelf in the deeper water of a pool.