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Former Indiana graduate killed by SeaWorld whale - Killer whale, Tilikum, not Shamu, attacks trainer

News reports have confirmed that Andrean High School graduate Dawn LoVerde Brancheau, 40, died after an attack from a killer whale. The attack happened Wednesday, February 24, during a show at Sea World in Orlando, Florida, with many witnesses on hand.

Brancheau attended from the private Merrillville, Indiana, school as a student leader. She was active in numerous activities, including cheerleading, and attained roles such as the student body president and homecoming queen.

The killer whale, named Tilikum, not Shamu as some have previously reported, has been involved in two previous deaths, a trainer in 1991, and an unfortunate individual in 1999. Brancheau was considered one of the most experienced trainers at the park, and reports conflict as to the events leading up to the attack. The police have reported that Brancheau fell into the water with the predator, while other witnesses claim that Tilikum dragged her down into the water as she was rubbing the whale.

Killer whales can be dangerous to humans, as they sport more than four dozen razor-sharp teeth and are the only whales that consume mammals and birds. Killer whales have been known to attack other large whales and sharks, as well.

The whale shows at SeaWorld are temporarily being halted until officials decide what to do.