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  • My name is Detective Samara Melish. I'm with the Orange County Sheriff's Office.

  • Today's date is February 26, 2010,

  • and the time is 09:51 hours.

  • I am speaking on the phone with Jessica Wilder

  • in reference to Case Number 10-16715,

  • an incident that occurred at Seaworld on February 24th, 2010.

  • Jessica, for the recorder, can you just say and spell your first and last name.

  • My name is Jessica Wilder. J-E-S-S-I-C-A.

  • Wilder. W-I-L-D-E-R.

  • And Jessica, you had told me yesterday, when I talked to you on the phone, that you

  • had participated as a guest at the Dine With Shamu show.

  • Yep, that's correct. The 12:30 show on February 24th,

  • and I have our confirmation number still for our reservation if you'd like it.

  • Nope, that's OK. As far as the show itself,

  • can you kind of tell me what happened during the show?

  • I have attended two previous shows, Dine With Shamu, so I have a reference

  • for what I've observed before. I'm also a licensed veterinary technician

  • and hold a degree in psychology and have worked in zoos, and was a zoology major as well.

  • So, from witnessing this Dine With Shamu experience there was nothing observable out of the ordinary

  • during the dining experience.

  • The dining experience was wonderful. Everything went just as it always had, and

  • there was nothing out of the ordinary that I observed.

  • What happened at the end of the show?

  • At the end of the show, they thanked us for participating, wished us all well, and

  • made it clear that it was time to start exiting the dining area.

  • A few families, my own included, you know, we sat behind to try to snap a few more pictures

  • and at that time I observed a male trainer who was standing back, by the main platform in front of the screen

  • and a female trainer who was down. She was actually interacting with the whale still,

  • kind of giving people a bit more show.

  • She was using fish to reward him and also doing the trainer hug, the pat, throwing him fish, you know asking him to do things.

  • I also observed her laying on that platform. She was laying right down

  • and he was coming up. She was hugging him.

  • So we watched that for a bit, and then,

  • my daughter said she was bored, and

  • we decided to head down to the underwater viewing area.

  • I wanted to continue to watch the interaction from down below.

  • So, we then left, and we went down around, and I was standing,

  • if you look at the viewing area, there are three different pains of glass.

  • I was on the one furthest to the right.

  • I could clearly see the whale in the water

  • coming up to her to receive his treats, and whatnot.

  • I was just enjoying watching him come for a reward and then take a loop, that sort of thing.

  • At that point, there was only one other family next to me

  • at this time, and I believe that we were able to see at that angle.

  • But depending on where you were at the glass, you had a different perspective.

  • I don't know what the people in the middle as far as left panel saw because I was on the furthest right.

  • I made a comment to one of the young children next to me

  • about "Oh, isn't this fun?" And the

  • mom said, "Oh, look, the trainer got in the water with him."

  • And I immediately looked up because I know that's not part of the Dining With Shamu experience, and

  • she was in the water. I knew it was a trainer because she had a black and white uniform on.

  • I did see blonde hair.

  • So, I assumed it was a female. I assumed it was the woman who'd been up there.

  • I also want to make it clear that I don't know the whale's name that was with the dining Shamu encounter,

  • but they did tell us it was the largest male at the park.

  • Alright, and that they did not switch whales out in that period of time,

  • so I believe it was the male that we observed during Dine With Shamu.

  • So, at this point, I see the woman in the water and she is spread eagle,

  • not in the typical trainer fashion when they jump in and they're in a tuck.

  • She was scrambling to get out. I saw her kicking, and I saw her reaching

  • to try to get out. And it seemed like a split second later,

  • the whale was approaching her because when I saw her enter the water, when I saw her in the water,

  • the whale was nowhere near her.

  • My first observation was of her just in the water.

  • And I turned to the woman next to me, and said,

  • 'This is not part of the show. Get the kids out of here.'

  • And people didn't know what was going on. There was no alarm bell sounded.

  • There was nothing. The attendant there did nothing.

  • And here comes the whale. And at first it looked like he was going to go underneath her and give her a foot lift.

  • You know, like you see them do during the believe show?

  • And then, he lifted his snout up and impacted her squarely in the chest.

  • And she went, I mean you can't go flying through the water, but it was substantial.

  • He probably...whatever. She went soaring in the water.

  • She was still in the water. Then, the whale left her and went to do another loop.

  • She was still alive at that time because I saw her attempt to ball herself up.

  • People were not screaming. There was no pandemonium. I don't think people knew what was going on.

  • The Seaworld attendant had not yet said anything, and I was getting concerned because I knew

  • that the whale was about to...he was gonna kill her.

  • So, I turned to the mother next to me again, and I said, 'Get your kids out of here.'

  • I turned around to make sure my daughter wasn't at another window.

  • And I looked back because my daughter had gone up with my partner because she was bored, thank god.

  • The whale came around again, and he opened his mouth. He was headed square for her waist.

  • And at that point, I grabbed the kid next to me and spun her around

  • and grabbed the mother and said, 'Get them out of here.'

  • And we started to walk up. And I could see...at that point, I just saw the woman's leg.

  • I did not see blood in the water, and then,

  • as we were halfway up the man at the window started saying, 'Ok, now everybody clear out. Clear out.'

  • And we were at the top when the alarm bell sounded.

  • So, based on the viewing tank setup, I don't know how many families actually saw what I saw.

  • As far as I could tell, because I moved to that far right window so I could observe him being fed

  • and observe that platform (I was interested in it) because I could not see that from the middle or the far left.

  • So, I don't know how many people actually witnessed the actual attack,

  • but I know that I did. And the family next to me, whether they know what they saw or not, they did.

  • And it was a husband and a wife and two small girls.

  • They had been at the Dining With Shamu show as well.

  • Then, the bells were ringing. And we were walking up briskly,

  • and you could kind of see through the gate, and I was just

  • ... you could see the trainers at that point mobilizing, with the nets.

  • And you know, a crowd formed, and the bells are going off.

  • And at that point, I was pretty well stunned. I was naus...I was very upset.

  • People were just talking, you know. They didn't know what was going on

  • and then, all the sudden, the Seaworld staff came and they start ushering people away

  • without any explanation. We just took our daughter out of the area because we didn't want her around the Maylay.

  • And as we were walking away we heard, on the radio,

  • a man in Seaworld attire in front of us

  • said on the radio, 'She's non-responsive to CPR.'

  • And at that point, we took our daughter to go see the Manatees quickly

  • to kind of normalize everything. And then we left the park.

  • Alright, so did you...when you were there, during the show itself,

  • did you notice anything out of the ordinary? Since you've seen the show multiple times,

  • there's nothing that looked different to you from any other show?

  • Absolutely not. And that's why, one of the reasons why, I called you

  • because I hear what people are saying. And this did not happen during the Believe Show.

  • This did not happen in the main tank.

  • I'm 100% certain of that. This was the whale that was used for the Dine With Shamu at the 12:30 show.

  • It was not in the stadium. Sixty thousand people did not witness this.

  • The only people who could have possibly witnessed this were the trainers on deck,

  • anyone lagging behind from the 12:30 Dine With Shamu show would have seen it from topside,

  • if they had stayed behind, and the people at the viewing tank down below.

  • Those are the only people who could have possibly witnessed it

  • because those gates are closed. You couldn't have gone back into the stadium.

  • And what happens is, with Dine With Shamu, there's a 12:00 Believe Show that day

  • So, that was going on before Dine With Shamu began.

  • That had cleared out while Dine With Shamu was still going on.

  • So these reports that whales were behaving oddly during the show, that's not even relevant.

  • They were completely different whales.

  • The whale from Dining With Shamu. I have pictures from before. Like I said, I've seen that show twice before.

  • I have extensive wildlife biology background, and

  • there was nothing out of the ordinary.

  • And the trainer, after the dinner experience, was laying down on that ledge, petting

  • him, giving him reward. I can't believe she would have done that

  • if she felt something were amiss.

  • So, this is just completely random.

  • Alright, is there anything else that you can think of that you noticed?

  • I mean other than what you saw when you were down by the tank.

  • No. Nothing was out of the ordinary, absolutely nothing. Everything went just as it had always gone.

  • Ok. Do you swear everything you're saying to me is true?

  • Ok. Do you swear everything you're saying to me is true?

  • Yes, I do.

  • The time is 10:02, and I'm going to stop the recording at this point.

My name is Detective Samara Melish. I'm with the Orange County Sheriff's Office.

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DEATH AT SEAWORLD | EYEWITNESS INTERVIEW with Jessica Wilder | The Cove | TakePart TV

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    Nii Nadia posted on 2013/11/15
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