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Fine lowered for Sea World in whale trainer’s death

Updated: May 30, 2012 5:10PM

A judge in Florida has reduced SeaWorld Orlando’s $75,000 fine to $12,000 for the death of a trainer by a killer whale in 2010.

Judge Ken Welsch’s order changes the most serious citation that SeaWorld faced from “willful” to “serious.”

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration had issued SeaWorld two citations totaling $75,000 in the death of trainer Dawn Brancheau, a native of Cedar Lake in south Lake County, Ind., who died in February 2010 when a whale named Tilikum grabbed her and violently dragged her under water as horrified SeaWorld visitors watched.

At a hearing last year, SeaWorld representatives argued that the safety citations were unfounded and said their protocol for protecting trainers was sound.

OSHA officials argued that trainers should have some kind of physical barrier when working with whales.

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