The family of a marine trainer who was killed by a whale following a training exercise at SeaWorld say they are still heartbroken over her loss.
Dawn Brancheau, 40, was tragically killed after SeaWorld Orlando’s largest killer whale Tilikum dragged her underwater on February 24 in 2010.
The experienced trainer had been working with Tilikum for a while and was one of the few members of staff to have permission to work with him.
However, Tilikum suddenly pulled Dawn into the water from the side of the tank and she was killed but it is unknown as to why the killer whale's behaviour suddenly changed.
Her sister Debbie Frogameni, a dentist, has spoken out about the loss of Dawn through doing what she loved.
Dawn, who had been working with whales at Seaworld for almost 15 years, had always wanted to work with marine animals since the age of 13 after watching the Shamu show at SeaWorld Ohio.
Debbie said her family will never forget where they were when the news of her sister’s death was given to them and are “still processing her loss” to this day.
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Speaking to the Sun, she said: “Dawn was just so special to so many people and I'm not sure you ever get past losing someone like her.
"I think we do find some comfort knowing that she accomplished and experienced more in her short 40 years than most people who live long lives.
"But that doesn't take away what our family and the world lost that day."
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Dawn’s death prompted SeaWorld to make changes to their safety practises and also sparked debates over captive whales.
Although it is only speculation, some believe Tilikum’s behaviour came from being restricted in his tank.
Tilikum has been involved with other incidents where a person has died after he was first captured as a two-year-old in Iceland in 1983.
As reported by the Guardian, Tilikum was involved in the death of a trainer, Keltie Byrne, along with two female orcas after she fell into their pool at Sealand of the Pacific in Canada in 1992.
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Several years later when Tilikum had been moved to Orlando, a man was found dead in his tank having broken into the park after hours with SeaWorld saying the man died of hypothermia.
Following Dawn’s death, her family launched The Dawn Brancheau Foundation to mark what would have been her 42nd birthday.
The foundation has helped build playgrounds in the local community, supported charities, provided for the homeless and more.
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