A killer whale killed a trainer Wednesday afternoon at SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida, a spokesman for the Orange County Fire Department said.
The woman, 40, was in the whale holding area about 2 p.m. when “she apparently slipped or fell into the tank and was fatally injured by one of the whales,” the spokesman said.
The spokesman, John Mulhall, said the trainer was pronounced dead at the scene.
The incident did not occur during a performance, said a spokeswoman for SeaWorld, who added that more information was to be released soon.
Victoria Biniak told CNN affiliate WKMG that she saw the deadly incident from a viewing area.
“The trainer was explaining different things about the whale, and then the trainer that was down there walked away from the window. Then [the whale] took off really fast in the tank, and he came back, shot up in the air, grabbed the trainer by the waist and started thrashing [her] around,” Biniak said.
Guest David Dalton told CNN affiliate WFTV, “All of the sudden, out of nowhere, two of the bigger whales just kind of flipped out, going as fast as they could in the water.”
Biniak told WKMG that the whale, named Tilikum, or Telly for short, does not typically have a trainer in its tank because it is too large.
Tilikum is a nearly 30-year-old, 12,300-pound bull orca.
Read updates here.