ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - WFTV obtained a newly released video that may have been part of the reason why a judge ruled that SeaWorld can't allow trainers back in the water during whale performances.
The video shows a whale turning on a trainer at SeaWorld in San Diego.
Back in 2006, cameras rolled as the show started like any other.
Veteran trainer Ken Peters played around with a female orca, named Kasatka, before he jumped in for the big finale.
They were to meet underwater and she was supposed to push him in the air by his foot, in the video, the trainer begins to struggle. The whale had clamped down on his foot instead, and then pulled him under.
Underwater cameras captured the frantic fight and the trainer was no match for the 5,000-pound orca.
In the video, she tosses him around, pulling him even deeper into the pool.
Peters managed to calm the whale down enough to get his head above water, but she still didn't let go.
The whale ignored commands by other trainers and pulled Peters under again.
He was finally able to break free. The ordeal lasted nine horrifying minutes.
The trainer frantically swam out of the pool. He even fell down trying to run when he thought the whale was coming after him again.
Once he reached safety, he collapsed, and then emergency workers rushed to his
aid to treat his broken foot.
just-released video was presented at an Occupational Safety and Health Administration hearing in Orlando back in September.
It's part of a case that government says proves that SeaWorld trainers don't belong in the water with killer whales.
During the hearing, the judge called the video chilling and upheld the OSHA ruling that said trainers should remain behind barriers and not swim with the whales.
SeaWorld was cited by OSHA after the death of trainer Dawn Brancheau.
She was dragged underwater by a killer whale in 2010.
Thad Lacinak, SeaWorld's former vice president of animal training, told WFTV the incident is different from the one that killed Brancheau, because unlike Tillikum, Kasatka was trained to have people in the water with her.
"If she wanted to kill him she would have killed him. It's a killer whale, the top predator in the ocean," Lacinak said.
Lacinak said Kasatka and her handler's training worked because the whale ended up releasing him.
"She understood she was pulling him under and not letting him go. But eventually, she did let him go, and you can see Ken patting her on the head even as she has his leg. That was to calm her down," he said.
Lacinak said incidents like this one need to be taken into context.
"All of the trainers that work with the killer whales understand the whales can be dangerous and we choose to work with them," Lacinak said.