SeaWorld Trainer's Death Honored

SeaWorld trainer remembered one year later

By Lauren Morales
|  Thursday, Feb 24, 2011  |  Updated 1:04 PM CDT
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Brancheau Family

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SeaWorld Trainer Laid to Rest

Hundreds of mourners turned out Monday for the funeral for Dawn Brancheau, who was killed by one of the SeaWorld's orcas.
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It's a sad day for Darlyne Klages, who prayed one year ago today that the SeaWorld accident she heard about from a coworker didn't involve her sister, Northwest Indiana native Dawn Brancheau, a trainer of 15 years.

Sadly, Klages had a gut feeling that it did.

Brancheau died during an incident following a SeaWorld show with Tilikum, a six-ton orca whale. Tilikum suddenly pulled the trainer by her hair and dragged her underwater, killing her in front of a shocked audience.

One year later, Klages, 47, remembers all too vividly the events of that day, she tells the Chicago Tribune in a rare interview.

She told the paper she called her sister after hearing about the accident, but there was no response. She left a message saying, "Please tell me this isn't you."

The family has since started the Dawn Brancheau Foundation, a tribute to the trainer and her legacy of helping others.

SeaWorld continues to perform its "Believe" show with Tilikum absent and without trainers in the water. After five years, a new show will begin in its place next month.

For Klages and her family, today will be spent remembering better times and a sister who Klages says, "showed us how to live a good life."

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