Whales' behavior 'unusual' prior to SeaWorld attack, witness says

By A.J. Ross - bio | email

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - While investigators are still trying to figure out what happened nearly a week ago at an Orlando SeaWorld, more and more witnesses are stepping forward and filling in the pieces of this tragic puzzle.

John Kielty, a Myrtle Beach snowbird, is one of hundreds of people who was at the park that day. He says it wasn't hard to notice that the behavior of some of the whales that afternoon was unusual.

"They were obviously doing something out of the ordinary," Kielty said, who attended the last show before the tragic accident. "The trainers were going around the side of the pool trying to get the attention of the whales, but it was apparent that the whales weren't responding or compliant with their directions."

Kielty says two whales in particular, seemed to be behaving oddly, and he thinks one of them may have been Tilikum, the whale that later killed long-time trainer Dawn Brancheau. He says towards the end of the show, where the audience traditionally gets splashed, the two whales repeatedly ignored commands from the trainers. He says the two then began chasing each other around the pool and that's when the trainers separated the whales and the show was suddenly cut short.

"Everyone was in there with their ponchos and towels and everything all ready to get splashed and because the whales weren't cooperating that never happened,"Kielty said.

Instead, Kielty and the rest of the guests left the show early, but shortly thereafter he says he heard alarms, helicopters and a lot of commotion.

"You could tell that people were upset that something serious was going on," described Kielty. "I overheard people saying that someone went into the water, but at that time I didn't know how serious it was."

When Kielty finally learned of Brancheau's tragic death, he says he was stunned.

"It was upsetting just to hear that, then to find out who it was and to know that we had just seen her," Kielty said.

Investigators have not confirmed whether or not Tilikum was a part of the noon show Kielty witnessed, and as more details emerge with this investigation, Kielty says he surprised more people haven't stepped forward and described the "strange" behavior displayed that day.

"SeaWorld, I know has repeatedly said there were no problems with the animals prior to this event and everything had gone according to schedule throughout the day leading up to Dawn's death and I disagree," Kielty said. "I know there's hundreds of other witnesses who would agree with me that there was something wrong prior to her death."

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